ALYSSA Valdez marked her return to the Shakey's V-League by leading a PLDT Home Ultera comeback from two-sets down against Philippine Army in Game One of the Season 12 Reinforced Conference Finals on Sunday.
Valdez, who sat out the entire tournament due to injury, scored 25 points in just four sets of action and provided the spark in the Ultra Fast Hitters' 16-25, 20-25, 26-24, 29-27, 18-16 victory before a roaring crowd at The Arena in San Juan.
“With all due respect ang puso ng mga batang ito ang lalaki eh,” said PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb after the win that moved the Ultra Fast Hitters on the verge of another league championship.
“Si Alyssa napakalaking bagay talaga niyan sa amin,” added Gorayeb. “Ang lakas niya maka-intimidate sa kalaban at ang lakas niya maka-inspire ng teammates niya.”
Gretcel Soltones and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas each had 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Ultra Fast Hitters, who dug themselves a big hole by losing the first two sets.
Game Two of the best-of-three series is set next Sunday.
Gorayeb, however, rued that American imports Sareea Freeman and Victoria Hurtt have yet to blend with their local teammates, especially with the setting of Rubie de Leon.
Freeman and Hurtt were used in the first three sets but were barely used in the remaining two.
“’Yung sitwasyon kasi kanina ‘di makapalo ang mga foreigners ko, tinutulak na lang ‘yung bola eh hindi ka mananalo sa Army ng ganoon eh,” he said.
“’Yung set sa kanila ni Rubie hindi sila sanay doon unlike sa locals ko na sanay na sanay na sa isa’t-isa, tinginan lang alam na ang igagalaw kaya kanina inupo ko na lang,” he added.
Conference MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga led Army with 19 points while Royse Tubino and Aby Marano added 16 and 15 markers, respectively.