IT wasn’t just about victories, celebrations, and good news; 2018 was also headlined with controversies.
As the year comes to an end, let us take a look back at the most talked about stories of defeat, struggles and how athletes, coaches and even sports officials faced the issue.
PSL versus former chief
On July 19, the Philippine Super Liga board filed a complaint of qualified theft against former league president Tats Suzara at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila.
A statement, which was read by PSL vice president Dr. Ian Laurel, said that irregularities were discovered after a comprehensive audit conducted by an independent auditor hired by the PSL.
Laurel declined to go into specifics when asked about the amount involved, only saying, "Malaki."
Suzara, however, vehemently denied all claims.
The PSL also filed a complaint against Don Caringal, the league's former finance director.
Suzara stepped down from his post in May while Caringal resigned as early as January after the audit was released.
Ramil de Jesus’ ‘pambarangay’ remark on his La Salle players
La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus did not bother to sugarcoat his words after his team lost to Adamson University, 18-25, 25-15, 19-25, 22-25, in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on February 24.
The 10-time UAAP champion coach simply could not let the loss pass.
The soft-spoken mentor, spent almost an hour inside the dugout, was straight forward when a handful of reporters asked him what he told his players during the post-game huddle.
“Dapat kapag suot mo ang jersey ng La Salle dapat larong La Salle ang gagawin mo, hindi ‘yung, sabi ko nga kanina, parang ang suot mo isang team lang sa barangay eh,” he said.
“Pambarangay lang ang laro niyo, doon lang kayo bagay, hindi kayo bagay sa UAAP,” he added.
It was a frustrating loss for De Jesus when La Salle was already on the verge of forcing a decider before it squandered a four-point lead in the fourth set, 9-5, as Adamson went on a 12-1 run to take the lead, 17-10, all the way to the finish to snap a 10-year losing drought against the Lady Spikers.
Adamson’s last win over La Salle was a four-setter in the second round Season 70.
The loss to AdU was like salt that was drubbed on an open wound as La Salle just came from a five-set loss to National University.
De Jesus’ words stirred mix reactions on social media. Some said that he was being too harsh on his wards and he offended those playing in barangay leagues, while others commented that it was his prerogative to say those words.
A few days later, La Salle libero Dawn Macandili admitted that their team indeed played as if they were in a barangay-level league.
The 2018 Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Ms. Volleyball added that de Jesus’ remark was a wake up call for them.
After that loss La Salle cruised its way to the finals en route to its third straight championship and 11th overall.
Pregnancy rumors about EJ Laure just won’t stop
It started December last year when University of Santo Tomas star spiker EJ Laure stopped attending trainings due to a shoulder injury.
But no matter how Laure or even her coach Kungfu Reyes denied the issue, pregnancy rumors still continued to circulate on social media.
To put an end to the speculations, Laure showed up on the opening game-day of the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament at MOA Arena on February 4.
“Siyempre siguro tao din naman sila ,meron silang sariling opinyon. Hindi ko naman maiiwasang ‘wag sabihin sa kanila na, 'wag, 'di ganon. Sa kanila na rin 'yun,” said Laure.
“Ewan ko kasi parang hindi naman totoo 'yung sinasabi nila and nasa kanila na lang yun, kung ano gusto nilang sabihin,” she said.
Fast forward to December 27, Reyes is hoping that Laure can comeback in practice after the holidays.
He also pointed out that showing up at practice doesn’t guarantee Laure a place in the team.
Every time a women’s national volleyball team will be formed, controversies spark.
Of course with the team selection, netizens would always have a say on the composition.
But the most controversial was Ramil de Jesus’s exit with the team two months after his designation.
The Philippine volleyball community was celebrating when De Jesus decided to accept the offer of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. to call the shots for the Filipinas.
Everyone was excited and looking forward for his return since he last coach the national team in 2005.
But after the tryouts and a few trainings, the 11-time UAAP champion coach of De La Salle resigned saying that it’s a ‘conflict of schedule’ and he wants to focus on coaching the Lady Spikers and F2 Logistics Cargo Movers.
Some fans were heartbroken and couldn’t accept De Jesus decision that’s why LVPI received a social media outrage
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos made sure that there will be no hard feelings with fellow FEU graduare De Jesus before taking the post and continuing the program.
Some sports officials were also contradicting the participation of the women’s volleyball team in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games because they believes that the team won’t earn a medal.
But after 36 years, the Philippines still sent a women’s volleyball team and had its first victory against Hong Kong in straight sets in the group stages — the country’s first Asian Games triumph in volleyball since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games.
The Filipinas even advanced in the quarterfinals but didn’t advance to the semifinals.
The women’s volleyball team backed by Rebisco also joined the AVC Asian Cup only to end up at ninth place after a string of frustrating meltdowns.
In 2019, another team will be formed for the 30th Southeast Asian Games Philippines — of course controversies will still be there — but everyone is hopeful that this will be the year that the Filipinas will finally earn a medal in their home soil.
Myla Pablo’s departure to Pocari Sweat-Air Force was one of the controversial stories in Philippine volleyball.
The face of the Federated Distributed Inc. franchise shocked the volleyball community when she decided not to continue the remaining three years of her lucrative five-year contract signed last 2016 and leave the Lady Warriors, whom she helped win three PVL titles
The two-time PVL Most Valuable Player attracted multiple teams — among these are Foton, Cocolife and Sta. Lucia from the PSL, and PetroGazz and BanKo Perlas in the PVL— but a source disclosed that Pocari Sweat had the right to select the team that will buy out her contract.
Motolite, which joined the PVL Open Conference and won a silver medal with the core of Ateneo Lady Eagles, will be Pablo’s next destination as the franchise has an intention to form its volleyball club league next PVL season.
Pablo, wholeheartedly accepted her new team and even proudly wore Motolite merchandise like cap and shirt in every national television appearance she made.
“Siguro nagmeeting sila ni Pocari and Motolite noong Wednesday okay naman yung usapan nila,” she said. “Sila yung sasalo ng three years ko. Okay naman yung usapan namin maganda naman.”
The star open spiker is elated for a fresh start with a new club team for the first time since she played for FDI’s Philips Gold in PSL last 2015 before it transferred to PVL as Pocari Sweat in 2016.
“Siyempre another club nanaman yung paglalaruan ko, another team so sana yung mga darating na teammates ko ngayon sana maging okay kami,” Pablo said.
The million dollar question for Motolite this coming 2019 is who will be Pablo’s teammates?
Social media outrage
Ateneo Lady Eagles’ new head coach Oliver Almadro had a baptism of fire of social media outrage from some volleyball fans, who didn’t like his enthusiasm and motivational words.
Some fans didn’t like Almadro’s motivational words and infectious energy and they even called the coach ‘overacting’.
In their first few games in the PVL Season 2 Open Conference, Almadro already got a lot of bashing from what he said to motivate Dani Ravena telling the libero, “Walang duwag na Ravena!”
A video of Almadro’s timeout from a 24-26, 22-25, 16-25 loss to BanKo in their second round duel went viral, where the Ateneo coach scolded Wong for the wrong coverage as the Lady Eagles were trailing in the third set, 7-11, and down two sets to nothing to the Perlas Spikers.
Almadro told Wong during the timeout: “Asan ang cover?! Asan ang cover mo?!O san ka nagset? San ka pupunta dapat? Eh hindi ka nakapwesto eh. Ay Deanna maling motivation palitan mo ito Jaja (Maraguinot)!”
As some volleyball fans didn’t wanted Almadro’s audacity, the Ateneo coach didn’t mind the hate over social media.
“I don’t care. Few people doesn’t matter for me, what’s important for me is I use them as our strength, I use them as a creative criticism for me and of course I don’t put energy in the things I don’t have control,” Almadro said. “Rather, I put all my energy at things I have control, which is my team so yun ang importante.”
“What matters for us sa team is we fight for our school, we fight for our family and we fight for the supporters that pray for us, that support us win or lose,” he added. “Those who does not support us when we lose, it’s okay with us, we still pray for them.”
Winning three titles in the UAAP men’s division by scolding Marck Espejo, arguably the best men’s spiker, and the Blue Eagles some times,
Almadro explained that, he’d rather shout at his team in the PVL rather than the UAAP because he wants his players to see what’s ‘right or wrong’ in the PVL and play more relax in Season 81 next year.
“I read all of that but what matters for me sabi ko nga I will sacrifice my kindness so that my players will know what is right or wrong because life is cruel,” the Ateneo coach said. “If you will just be kind all the time, they will not inderstand what is right or wrong. As a parent, sometimes, I have to sacrifice kindness because life is cruel in the end because they have to know is right or wrong.”
The Lady Eagles have no issues on the way Almadro has been handling them and even Wong explained that the team has a good relationship with their coaches and all those shouting and scolding are for their good, which other fans couldn’t simply understand.
“First of all, iba 'yung intindihan namin as players and coaches. With coach O, naiintidihan namin 'yung mga pagkakamali namin,” Wong said. “Sobrang detailed so we can easily understand what we need to be better. Iba 'yung system niya din. As the UAAP is coming, we're still adjusting din, but it's been good.”
So if there’s no problem with the Lady Eagles and Almadro’s motivation worked with Espejo and the Blue Eagles, why some fans can’t accept it?
It shouldn’t be a controversy this year if those social media bashers would have a better understanding of the sport that it’s the coach’s job to motivate his team, it’s part of the life of an athlete and the game.
Come on volleyball fans, let’s be better tomorrow (2019).
University of the East volleyball teams were also a hit the newspapers, tabloids and online sports websites in 2018 because of the simultaneous exits of former national team coaches Francis Vicente and Sammy Acaylar in the women’s and men’s squads, respectively.
Lady Red Warriors head coach Vicente, also the ex women’s national team mentor, departed midway in Season 80 with a 0-5 win-loss record and a 2-45 overall slate in his three and a half seasons with UE, while Red Warriors coach Acaylar, the former men’s national team and current University of Perpetual help mentor and athletic director, also resigned from his post.
UE Athletic Director Rod Roque had no choice but to take charge of both teams and bravely accepted the responsibility even he wasn’t really coaching volleyball.
Although the Red Warriors still ended up 0-14, the Lady Red Warriors showed a glimmer of hope as Roque steered the team bannered by Shaya Adorador, Mean Mendrez, Judith Abil, Seth Rodriguez, Laizah Bendong and libero Kath Arado with two wins over Adamson and UST — the squad’s first back-to-back wins since UAAP Season 74.
And it wasn’t bad for a first timer like Roque to finish with a 2-12 card compared to Vicente, who hardly won two games in more than three seasons.
Rey Karl Dimaculangan will take over as head coach of both UE’s men’s and women’s team hoping to change the reputation of both squads as push overs in the league.
Before 2018 ended, the Lady Red Warriors made a short work of FEU Lady Tamaraws in three sets, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16, to notch the bronze medal of the inaugural PSL Collegiate Grand Slam.
A core led by Mendrez, Abil, Bendong, Rodriguez and Arado delivered UE’s first podium finish in a major volleyball league since it won bronze in UAAP Season 67.
“Masaya kasi ang mindset namin is tapusin namin yung taon ng maganda for preparation for the next season ng UAAP, yun talaga yung target namin,” Dimaculangan said as they ended the year right.
Now the mission for Dimaculangan and the UE teams is to pull-off surprises in 2019 when UAAP Season 81 volleyball tournaments fire off.