The storied University of Perpetual Help Altas has produced some of the best players in the country today. With the flamboyant Sammy Acaylar at the helm, multiple Altas have gone on to translate their collegiate success to National Team stints.
After getting knocked off the throne last season after winning four straight champions in years prior, the Altas tore through the competition this year with the energy and ferocity they lacked last year.
Like any great volleyball team, the Altas are an all-around threat with barely any weak rotations and multiple offensive threats. Their staunch Middle Blockers – Bonjomar Castel, Manuel Doliente – are the best in the league, both capable of protecting the net and scoring off slides and quicks.
But, perhaps the most interesting perhaps the most integral part of their lineup are their wingers, namely the Taneo brothers Rey Jr. and Relan.
The Cebuanos were key in their Finals-clinching match last Friday, helping the Altas avert a late-game meltdown against last season’s finalists, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers. Rey went for team-high 23 points while Relan followed with 13.
The Taneos have a long standing relationship with Acaylar, with the brother’s parents both having played for Acaylar during college. The younger of the brothers, Rey went to Perpetual first before his brother. Now in his second season, Rey’s role has expanded from off-the-bench scorer to a starter and the team’s main source of points.
The shift of role has been a challenge for the Open Hitter but he’s aware of his team’s need for him to be consistent. Taneo’s 23-point outburst came after a string of single-digit performances in three straight outings. “Sabi nga po ng mga coaches, kumuha lang ng inspiration sa ibang tao – friends, family, sa kanila mismo. Kasi kung sila nga may tiwala sa amin, bakit pa kami mawawalan ng tiwala sa sarili namin? Lalo na po ako. Kailangan ko pa talaga matuto na hindi isipin masyado ‘yung mga mali ko tapos bumawi na lang agad.”
Relan, on the other hand, had to overcome more physical obstacles than mental. Days into the season, Chicken Pox sidelined him for more than two weeks. Originally recruited out of Southwestern University to be the starting setter, Relan found his role had changed when he came back.
“Ang hirap po talaga nung pagbalik ko. Sobrang tumaba ako, wala talaga ako sa kondisyon. ‘Yung una nga pong practice namin sobrang nahihilo ako,” Relan recalled. “Naintindihan ko naman po kung bakit iba muna ‘yung ginagamit na setter.”
Coming off the bench for most of the matches, Relan served a new role. “Napansin po kasi ni coach na parang humina po ‘yung receive (service reception) ng mga kakampi ko kaya nilagay niya akong Utility (Hitter), tapos saka po siya umasa na ako ‘yung kumuha ng mga bola. Hindi naman po talaga ako magaling sa receive, gusto ko lang po talaga rumeceive.”
When asked why he transferred, Relan admitted that he really just wanted to be with his younger brother. “Kailangan niya po kasi ng gabay. Wala siyang kasama dito sa Manila na pamilya, sabi niya nalulungkot siya kaya ayon po. Narecruit naman na po ako dati maglaro dito, kaso takot lang talaga ako malayo sa pamilya – isip bata ba?”
The pint-sized brothers will represent Perpetual in the NCAA Beach Volleyball Tournament but, for now, they have their eyes set on their championship series against reigning titlist, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, which starts tomorrow at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
“Kahit naman po hindi pa namin sila natatalo this season, hindi kami magpapa-apekto doon. Iba na po kasi pagdating ng Finals. Hindi naman po namin hahayaan na talunin na lang kami,” Rey expressed.
“Hindi na kami pwede mag-relax tulad nung labas sa Benilde kasi hindi magpapabawi iyang EAC. Kailangan lang focused lang kami lagi, animal instinct ba, patay kung patay,” Relan followed.
With the feared Howard Mojica sure to fire off 30 points or more per match, the Altas will need every bit of offense the Taneos can provide.