All-Star Game a dream come true for coach Oliver Almadro
Ako as a coach Iím happy. Kasi ito ang pangarap ko eh last SEA Games na magsasama-sama itong mga malalakas na players dito sa atin -- Oliver Almadro
Coach Oliver Almadro was smiling from ear to ear during the postgame interview Sunday after his squad Team Galaw defeated Team Hataw in the 2016 Spikers’ Turf All-Star Game at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Ateneo de Manila mentor felt like a child living his dream as he called the shots for what he called a “dream team” with 12 of the best men’s volleyball players in the country.
This was the team that he wanted to have when he handled the national team in the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games.
Under him in Team Galaw were three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan, Rex Intal, and setter Ish Povorozsa – vital cogs in the Blue Eagles’ Collegiate Conference Conquest – and Cignal’s Peter Torres whom all participated in the biennial meet in the country’s return to the SEA Games after 10 years of absence.
He was also given a chance to handle other talented players like De La Salle’s Raymark Woo and setter Asia Geuel, Far Eastern University’s Greg Dolor, Philippine Army libero Jason Uy, Open and Reinforced Conference champions Rodolfo Labrador and Howard Mojica of Philippine Air Force.
“Ako as a coach I’m happy. Kasi ito ang pangarap ko eh last SEA Games na magsasama-sama itong mga malalakas na players dito sa atin,” said Almadro, whose Team Galaw outworked Team Hataw, 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20.
Twenty-four of the best players in the Spikers’ Turf were chosen to play in the exhibition match put up to raise funds for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Lawin.
“Now we can see na the unity ng lahat ng players at ng lahat ng coaches. I think this is a good step for the future. We can see naman na ito na ‘yung 24 of the best players in the country,” Almadro said. “Nakikita mo na ito na ‘yun eh. Ito ‘yung na-miss natin sa national team for the past international tournaments.”
Open and Reinforced Conference champions Jessie Lopez, Louie Chavez, Reyson Fuentes, Mark Alfafara and Jeffrey Malabanan of Air Force, National U’s Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail, Cignal’s Edward Ybanez and Vince Mangulabnan, Berlin Paglinawan of Champion Supra, Patrick Rojas of Army and Kheeno Franco of Instituto Estetico Manila played for Team Hataw.
Almadro hopes that this will be the start of true volleyball unity that will put the country back in the region’s volleyball map.
“Kapag nagtulu’y tuloy ito maganda ito. Kasi sinabi ko naman na sa men’s may laban tayo sa Southeast Asia eh,” he said. “So we’re happy. All of the coaches are happy na nagsasama-sama kami and of course nag-enjoy na tayo nakatulong pa tayo.”
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles