BIRTHDAY-girl Jema Galanza had a great gift for herself as she led Creamline in taking Game One over Petro Gazz of their best-of-three semifinals that allowed them to inch closer to the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference Finals.
Celebrating her 22nd birthday on the same day as their pivotal match, an inspired Galanza didn’t let her team down by providing the spark for the Cool Smashers in outlasting the Angels, 26-28, 25-15, 25-13, 25-16, on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Siyempre magandang gift ito sa akin. Yun naman ang pinaka-wish ko na manalo kami today saka sa susunod pang mga games hanggang umabot kami sa Finals,” said Galanza, who poured 24 points including 18 excellent receptions. “Kasi nandyan ang family ko, friends ko at mga fans na sumusuporta sa amin, sa akin. Ayoko rin namang maging sad ang birthday.”
“Sabi nga nila sa akin bago mag-start ang game para kay coach Tai at para sa akin,” she added.
Besides Alyssa Valdez, who is on pace to win her fifth Most Valuable Player award in the league, Galanza is also a strong contender for the prestigious plum, placing sixth in scoring with 12.07 points per game in the 14-game elimination, top five in spiking with 31.49% efficiency rate, sixth in service aces with 0.37 aces per set, third in receptions with 48.09% rate and eighth in digs (2.88 digs per frame).
Valdez, who topped the scoring, attacking and service in the double-round eliminations, said that the former Adamson star also deserves to win the Open Conference MVP.
“Kung MVP at MVP, I think everybody deserves it lalo na si Jema; she’s really working hard kung makikita niyo siya sa training,” the former three-time UAAP MVP out of Ateneo said. “Kaya pala ganyan siya kalakas ng Adamson days buti na lang hindi ko na siya masyado naabutan. Not just hardworking mabait na bata din talaga kaya ganyan din yung lumalabas din sa laro niya.”
Galanza was flattered hearing those words from the national team mainstay and she is just thankful to have Valdez and all the Cool Smashers working as one unit, which makes the job easier for their team.
“Oo kasi hindi na namin iisipin ang lahat. Saka hindi lang naman kaming dalawa ang gumagawa, more on teamwork,” she said.
But for both MVP candidates Galanza and Valdez, they have one goal and that is to finish the series against Petro Gazz on Saturday and march into the Open Conference Finals.
“Siguro yung ma-less pa ang errors and every time na mag-error kami dapat bumawi kami agad,” Galanza said. “Kasi minsan may ano kami na na-stuck kami sa ganitong points, yun lang ang tatrabahuhin namin saka hard service and blocking.”