VETERAN Aiza Maizo-Pontillas returned to the Philippine women's volleyball team as a late replacement on Friday after Kalei Mau was ruled ineligible for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
With less than a month remaining before the biennial meet set from November 30 to December 11, national coach Shaq delos Santos admitted Mau's departure poses a major challenge for the team.
“Malaking pagsubok na naman sa amin kasi adjustment na naman dun sa team,” said delos Santos.
But the veteran mentor opted to look for a solution instead of dwelling on the problem.
Aside from Maizo-Pontillas, who played for the national team in the 2017 edition of the SEA Games in Malaysia, from the reserved list, he is pinning his hopes on Mylene Paat playing both outside spiker and opposite spiker.
“Si Aiza na ang ilalagay namin [for Mau]. Si Mylene kasi sa Pilipinas nagagawa niyang maging outside hitter,” said delos Santos. “Pero kailangan mas maaral pa niya o maibigay namin ‘yung mga role niya as an outside hitter.”
Team insiders revealed that the coaching staff was already particularly hard on Paat during the team’s recent training camp in Japan, after learning about Mau’s ineligibility problems.
“Magiging dalawa ang pwesto niya in case na kailanganin namin siya sa outside,” said delos Santos. “Pero may tatlo pa naman tayong outside hitters. Depende ‘yan sa ilalaro at sa diskarte naming gagawin, dun na lang yun tatakbo.”