When the Far Eastern University Tamaraws decided to join the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference, it dealt a huge blow to PLDT’s line-up. They have now been forced to play without the services of Peter Quiel – a key player in head coach Odjie Mamon’s rotation.
It left Mamon scrambling for a replacement. Luckily for him, though, Josh Umandal was up to the challenge and agreed to fill in the hole left by Quiel.
With his cards limited, Mamon felt that playing Umandal in the middle along with Jayvee Sumagaysay, Mark Alfafara, Pao Pablico, John Vic De Guzman, and Kim Dayandante would put PLDT in the best position to win games.
“Yun yung best six na mafi-field in ko eh. Actually on-par siya dun sa mga top middles eh, so walang problema yun,” explained Mamon.
Umandal played most of his collegiate and semi-pro career at the outside hitter position, but he was actually a middle blocker in high school when he suited up for the University of the East.
And so he needed no adjustment when he slid back to his old position.
“Actually wala namang adjustment na nangyari kasi parang late na nga dumating si Lloyd [Josafat] dito sa amin. Nag-ano si coach, naghanap ng quicker,” said Umandal, who recorded three blocks for nine points in the Power Hitters’ sweep of the Philippine Army Troopers.
“Quicker naman talaga ako since high school ako. ‘Di naman mahirap mag adjust kasi quicker naman ako talaga.”
The young Umandal does not mind what position he plays, as long as he can contribute and help the team get the much-needed victories.
“Kung saan ako mas makakatulong, doon ako,” said Umandal.
When asked if he will continue playing his prized hitter in the middle, Mamon replied in jest, saying, “Secret ‘yan.”
Then, turning serious, he admitted that it is a possibility, since UST now have an arsenal full of wing spikers with the likes of Jaron Requinton, Genesis Redido, Wewe Medina, and rookies Lorenz Senoron and Wilsan Dela Cruz suiting up in the UAAP Season 82.
“Marami akong middle sa UST, pero it’s one of the options kasi kung maglalaro siya with Jeron Requinton, dadami yung wing spikers ko sa UST.”