ATENEO-Motolite plays without pressure but will give top seed Creamline a good fight in their Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Season 2 Open Conference title series that kicks off Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Coach Oliver Almadro and key player Bea De Leon are both looking forward to ‘having fun’ in the title series, where they weren’t supposed to be playing, yet managed to gatecrash nonetheless after pulling off a 21-25, 23-25, 25-17, 27-25, 21-19 stunner over Banko-Perlas in the nerve-wracking decider of their semifinals series on Sunday.
‘Coach O’ admitted the Lady Eagles were just supposed to play in the tournament to gain experience for their coming campaign in Season 81 of the UAAP.
“The finals series will be tough for us. We’re a collegiate team just learning going to the UAAP (season),” said Almadro as he talked about his underdog team in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Tapa King Restaurant in Farmer’s Plaza, Cubao.
“Naisip namin in this tournament, mabubugbog kami, marami kaming matutunan. Pero with the hard work of my players and with the help and strength of the Lord, nabigyan kami ng chance to be here in the finals and the opportunity to be champion,” he added. “We will just play loose, nothing to worry about because we’ve reached beyond our expectations.”
In Creamline, Ateneo-Motolite faces a veteran squad oozing with talent led by former Ateneo stalwarts Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado.
But despite the odds, De Leon said the Lady Eagles are ready to make a series out of it.
“It’s going to be tough because they know us and we know a bit of them. Ang daming beterano sa kanila and they’ve been together na for a while,” she said. “But on our side, bata kami and we’re very enthusiastic, we’re very eager to play and prove to ourselves na kaya talaga namin.”
The teams split their two head-to-head encounter during the double-round eliminations.
Game 2 and 3, if necessary, will be played back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday in Batangas City and then back at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Also in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) were members of the Paranaque Aces and the Dasmarinas Ballers who will likewise be clashing in the inaugural finals of the National Basketball League (NBL)-Philippines starting Wednesday at the San Dionisio gym in Paranaque City.
Like Ateneo-Motolite, the fifth seeded Ballers came back from the grave and overcame their twice-to-beat disadvantage against top see Bulacan Makabayan to advance in the best-of-three title series.
“Momentum-wise, kumpiyansa siya sa team, sa sarili, sa bawat players. Pero sa practice sabi namin back to zero na ulit ito. Anybody’s ballgame. Dalhin natin yung kumpiyansa and momentum, pero paghihirapan natin ito,” said Dasmarinas coach Azlie Guro.
Paranaque, the second seeded team, made the finals by beating the Laguna Pistons in their knockout semifinals match.
“Yung momentum nila kailangan ma-stop namin yun. Ang ganda ng nilalaro ng Ballers ngayon, from bottom umakyat sila. Yan ang mga mahihirap talunin (na team),” said Aces head coach Harold Sta. Cruz.
Game 2 of the series will be played at the Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas on Saturday, with Game 3 going back to Paranaque, if necessary, according to technical committee head Edward Aquino.