POCARI Sweat coach Rommel Abella takes pride in seeing his players live up to their 'comeback queens' tag as the Lady Warriors overcame another 0-1 deficit in a best-of-three series to bag the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference title.
The team turned back Air Force, 29-27, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19, on Monday night at the PhilSports Arena to take home the V-League championship right on its first try.
Pocari Sweat first saw itself trailing 0-1 in the best-of-three semifinals against Bali Pure before winning the next two games en route to the Finals. But the Lady Warriors found themselves in the same boat against the Jet Spikers when they lost the series opener of the finals, 25-17, 20-25, 25-15, 24-26, 11-15, on Wednesday.
Pocari bounced back to take Game 2, 17-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-20, on Saturday thanks to the efforts of best opposite spiker Michele Gumabao, second best outside hitter Myla Pablo and Elaine Kasilag. And before the winner-take-all match, Abella had all the fuel neeeded to fire up his wards.
“Prior to the game kinausap ko ang mga players sa dugout, sinabi ko na, since nandito na tayo do-or-die game na naman and nabansagan na din naman sila na 'comeback queens,' sabi ko patunayan na natin,” said Abella.
“Galing tayo 0-1 sa series, sabi ko patunayan na natin na comeback queens talaga kayo and prove sa mga tao na kaya natin manalo,” added the former University of Santo Tomas athlete.
Pocari Sweat became the third rookie team to win the title after Army and Sandugo-San Sebastian did it in Season 8 Open Conference and Season 9 Open Conference, respectively.
Abella also noted that winning the championship was extra special for him along with spiker Sarah Jane Espelita and assistant coach Ara Mallare, who have been with the team since their days in the Philippine Super Liga as Philips Gold and Mane N' Tail.
“From the start since hinawakan kami nina Sir Eric Ty (team manager) na Mane N’ Tail pa kami, bottom team kami doon (sa PSL) eh. For two conferences, third place kami and then dito nag-champion na nga kami. So from the start alam ko na, nakita ko na ang struggle ng team,” he said.
“’Yung ibang players dyan kagaya ni Espelita and Mallare, extra special ito para sa amin mga nanggaling pa dati,” he added. “Kaming tatlo ang from the start na from sixth place, then dalawang third place and then ngayon (champion).”