STA. ROSA, Laguna — National team captain Aby Maraño urges the remaining players to make the most of their given opportunity against powerhouse Thailand on Saturday in the ASEAN Grand Prix Second Leg at the Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Gym.
After a rousing three-set victory over Vietnam in Friday’s opener, the Nationals will be battling the first leg champions without their top scorer Alyssa Valdez, starting setter Jia Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Maddie Madayag as they have Premier Volleyball League matches in Iloilo City.
The undermanned Philippines takes on fellow opening day winner Thailand at 5 p.m., where the winner secures at least a silver medal.
Maraño is leading a 10-woman squad as they take on the Thais, bannered by first leg MVP Onuma Sittirak, Best Spiker Chatchu-on Moksri, Pimpichaya Kokram and veteran middle blocker Pleumjit Thinkaow.
“It’s always a challenging match when you play against Thailand, definitely. Kahit nung nandoon kami sa Thailand first leg, tuwang tuwa kami nakaisang set kami,” said Maraño, who scored six markers against Vietnam. “Ngayon even challenging because we don’t have Kalei, Alohi, Jia, Maddie, Alyssa and ate Jovs.”
The Philippines skipper encourages Majoy Baron, Ces Molina, Mylene Paat, Jasmin Nabor, Grethcel Soltones, Eya Laure, Roselyn Doria, Dawn Macandili and Kath Arado to make the most of their opportunity against the Region’s powerhouse.
“Good exposure for the new players of the national team na makalaban yung Thailand without yung mga core members,” she said. “We’re still optimistic and tinitignan namin parati yung positive side hindi yung maglalaro kami doon sasabihin namin ‘Ay wala na dehadong dehado talaga kami.’ Hindi ganon yung spirit ng mga atleta namin.”
Maraño is putting premium on defense to put up a gallant stand in front of their home crowd and try to counter Thailand’s lethal attacks.
“Adjustments-wise, pagtitibayan namin yung depensa namin, kasi we know how Thailand plays. talagang magaling sa opensa at sa depensa, pero kung sisipagan namin sa ilalim, baka may tsansa kami,” she said.