LEAGUE leader BanKo puts its unbeaten slate on the line against streaking Creamline in their much-anticipated Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference first round clash on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Perlas Spikers, holding an immaculate 5-0 win-loss record, are about to face their biggest test in the tournament so far at 6:30 p.m. going up against the Cool Smashers, who are brimming with confidence with a four-game winning streak that negated their loss in the conference-opener.
Prior to that, Ateneo-Motolite, tied at second spot with Creamline, takes on Tacloban (2-3) at 4 p.m.
Although unfazed with the battle of the two hottest teams in the league, BanKo coach Dong dela Cruz wants his wards to treat this pivotal match just like how they played in their first five games.
“Sa amin laro lang magpeprepare lang kami kung ano ‘yung strength nila yun naman ‘yung tinitignan namin lagi kung ano naman yung mga weaknesses nila,” said Dela Cruz, whose wards took down Petro Gazz, Adamson-Akari, Ateneo-Motolite, Iriga-Navy, and Tacloban.
Banking on his underrated line-up led by top scorers Dzi Gervacio and Nicole Tiamzon, the BanKo coach is insisting to prepare for Creamline’s depth even without the leadership and talent of Michele Gumabao, who is currently competing in Miss Globe.
“I don’t think that will be a disadvantage kasi lahat naman ng kahit sinong players diyan capable of doing the job of Michele Gumabao,” Dela Cruz said. “Kahit sino naman ipasok sa kanila kasi kung titignan mo yung line-up nila star-studded kaht sino ipasok mo sa kanila magcocontribute.”
“Medyo (malaking kawalan) sa kanila ‘yun kasi wala si Michele, medyo mababawasan kami ng sakit sa ulo lalo na ‘yung mga outside hitters ko kasi magaling blumock ‘yun,” he added as he also leans on setter Jem Ferrer, Kathy Bersola, Amy Ahomiro, Joy Dacoron, Sue Roces and liberos Ella De Jesus and Gizelle Tan.
True enough, the Cool Smashers won the last two of their four-game winning streak without Gumabao against Adamson-Akari last week and a five-set conquest over Pocari Sweat-Air Force last Sunday.
Former Lady Eagles and now Creamline’s dynamic duo Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado are excited to face their former college teammates Gervacio, Ahomiro, Tan, De Jesus and Mae Tajima.
“Mga beshie! Mga besh ko ‘yung nandun,” Valdez said. “We respect the game talaga and we’re really gonna play all out on Wednesday. So let’s see who’ll win and go home na mas masaya.”
But the four-time league Most Valuable Player, speaking for Creamline coach Tai Bundit, said that communication between her and Morado and teammates Jema Galanza, Risa Sato, Coleen Bravo and Fille Cainglet-Cayetano could be the key in handing BanKo’s first loss.
“The key para makawin kami is really the communication,” she said. “In this kind of game and this level of competition din dapat wala kang lapses and it’s start with communication and kailangan siyempre we play happy ‘yun ‘yung mantra ni coach Tai at the end of the day.”