UNIVERSITY of the Philippines head coach Godfrey Okumu is elated to have Tots Carlos back in his team but insisted that there’s a lot of work waiting for the star wing spiker in her return to the 2018 Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam.
After missing the Lady Maroons’ campaigns in the PSL Invitational and Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference due to a stress fracture on her shin, Carlos will finally return to action when the team battles University of the East on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Okumu expects Carlos to take time adjusting to playing with their rookies, especially freshman playmaker Marianne Sotomil.
“She still has to work because Sotomil is there and they haven't had a chance to play together,” he said. “She also hasn't played with the rookies. It's going to be challenging for her, but I believe she can play with anybody.”
With the team resting Collegiate Conference and Finals MVP Isa Molde and Marian Buitre, Okumu is not putting the pressure on Carlos to carry the scoring load. He expects seniors Ayel Estrañero, Aie Gannaban, Justine Dorog, Marist Layug and Jessma Ramos to step up along with rookies Nikki Magsarile and Lorie Sandoval.
“We don't want to put all the energy on her. We want to try and create a balance,” the Kenyan coach said. “We don't want just one player scoring a lot of points. Once we find that balance, we'll find that winning becomes easier.”
Okumu is also aware that there is a target on their backs after their magical title run in the PVL Collegiate Conference.
“We won a championship last time so everybody would like to win against UP. My players know that. I hope we can push through,” he said. “Many people are expecting us to win this championship, but as I said before, it really depends because everybody prepares so anybody can win."