AIRASIA'S inability to complete a team in practice is taking its toll on the team's campaign in the Philippine Super Liga, said coach Ramil de Jesus.
De Jesus lamented that with some of his players taking on full-time jobs, the team, made up predominantly of current and former La Salle Spikers, usually missed several of its key players in training, specifically Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Paneng Mercado, Melissa Gohing and Abi Marano.
That obviously carried over into actual games in the PSL All-Filipino Conference where the Flying Spikers had lost their last two outings after a 2-0 start to their campaign.
De Jesus is not entirely putting the blame on the team’s so-called 'working girls,' but admitted their absence in practice is obviously affecting AirAsia’s campaign.
"Siguro kaya naiiba 'yung nagiging galaw nila sa actual game kasi mahirap na 'di kumpleto sa practice," de Jesus told Spin.ph after AirAsia's 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 loss to RC Cola-Air Force last Wednesday.
"Ibang tao ang ginagamit ko sa ganitong sitwasyon, tapos pag sa game na, iba na naman. So nahihirapan ang setter.
"Ang iba 'di na umaabot sa call time ng training,” he continued. “Mas maganda sana mag-start ang team as a team, hindi 'yung hahabol na lang sa training or wala nang naabutan sa training."
Michele Gumabao's absence is another De Jesus concern as it forced adjustments in the position of Micmic Laborte, a natural middle spiker who is forced to shirt while the team waits for the 'Pinoy Big Brother' housemate.
"Isa pang factor is ang position ni Mic. 'Di siya utilty, middle spiker siya. Eh dahil sa absence ni Gumabao kaya naging utility siya," he said.
AirAsia went off to a hot start by disposing of league heavyweights Cagayan Valley (26-24, 25-19, 27-25) and back-to-back league runner-up Cignal (25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 15-11).
But the Flying Spikers came were sent crashing back to earth by two-time champion Generika-Army (20-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-25) followed by the loss to RC Cola-Air.Force.
De Jesus, usually calm and collected, did not sugarcoat his words after the sudden turnaround that saw AirAsia fall to fifth spot with an even 2-2 slate.
"Actually ang ine-expect ko sa kanila na 90 percent ang nilabas nila nasa 60 (percent) lang, kaya medyo disappointed ako sa kanila, pero konti lang naman," de Jesus said.
"Part ng team 'yun eh. Sa bawat team 'di naman laging successful ang outcome ng game. Pero compared sa Sunday game namin (against Army), mas mababa ang laro na pinakita ng mga bata," he added.
"Kailangan pa siguro ng adjustment 'di lang loob ng court kundi pati sa labas para makilala nila ang team nila," the multi-titled coach continued.
At the same time, de Jesus, who steered La Salle to eight UAAP women's volleyball titles, is also aired his conern over the play of setters May Macatuno, April Hingpit and Mika Esperanza.
"Marami pa (adjustments). Gaya ng setters. Hindi (effective) setters na kumbaga hindi naka-kabisado ang team, kung paano patakbuhin ang team.
"Actually ano eh, medyo mababa nilalaro ni Mika, isa din sigurong factor 'yun bakit nagkaganito ang team. Ang PSL kasi labanan ng setter. Halos lahat ng team malalakas ang setter."
AirAsia tries to bounce back against PLDT Home TVolution (2-2) which it plays on Sunday.