Sammy Acaylar has accumulated considerable clout in his three decades of coaching. Very few coaches are as beloved by his players as Acaylar is.
The Cagayan De Oro-native has always been a father-figure to his players, always accesible and approachable. But, Acaylar knows exactly when to shift gears and keep his players on their toes.
This was what happened in the NCAA Season 93 Men’s Volleyball Finals. His Perpetual Help Altas floundered in the first match against the Arellano Chiefs after sweeping the elimination round.
When Game Two rolled around, Acaylar had his players prepared to batter and force a winner-take-all Game Three.
“To tell you frankly, during our first game, natalo sila, ang dami nilang ano, ang dami nilang iniisip, ang daming distraction, ang daming intimidation that comes in,” said Acaylar, who is gunning for his 10th NCAA Men’s title. “Of course ‘yung muscle, naapektuhan. So what I did, we did some team bonding outside the school. So medyo nakita ko na ‘yung mukha nila during that simple team building na bumalik na sa dati.
“Parang naapektuhan talaga sila kasi isipin mo naman, wala kaming talo, tapos tatalunin kami sa Finals. Of course, I love my team. I know they play well, they work hard, but siyempre sa game hindi natin malaman talaga because given na yan pagdating ng game, mental toughness na yan. Yan ang gusto namin ayusin talaga.”
In Game Two, the Altas may have had a seminal moment that will come to decide the series. Up 20-11 in the third set, the Altas allowed the Chiefs to crawl back and extend the match to a fourth set.
Acaylar did not let up in showing his disappointment, letting into his players before the fourth set.
“‘Yun nga kasi, yun talaga ang main problem namin since eliminations, since first game, pag-start pa lang ng season na sobrang complacent talaga kami. Alam naming malayo na yung score, nagre-relax bawat isa,” lamented Perpetual setter Warren Catipay.
“Pag timeout naman, ang galing naman ni coach. Siyempre, Philippine team coach yan si Coach Sammy, so lahat ng motivation, at sa mga sinasabi niya pa lang, magagalit pa lang siya, isang salita pa lang sinasabi niya, nagigising agad kami,” the graduating Perpetualite added.
“Siguro ano lang talaga, kailangan lang namin mag-hard work pa para makuha namin ‘yung championship, ‘yung goal namin.”
For the final match of the season, Acaylar is leaving everything to his players.
“Well, of course mag-aaral kami, pag-aaralan namin sila kasi magaling ang Arellano, gumaling talaga sila. Yung heart nila nakita ko, how they play. Kami sabi ko nga maraming seniors sa atin, senior pa yung medyo nagla-lapse eh,” he expressed.
“So paghandaan lang talaga namin yan. I cannot say ako mag-champion, sila mag-champion. I cannot say that because si God lang nakakaalam kung kanino ibibigay ang championship.”