Generals start title defense against former champion Altas
Mark Escarlote on Jan 19, 2016 08:15 AM
Defending champion Emilio Aguinaldo College and Perpetual Help open their best-of-three Finals series on Tuesday.
University of Perpetual Help wants to regain the crown they failed to protect last year.
Defending champion Emilio Aguinaldo College will not let go of their title that easily – not after the Generals finally succeeded in bringing the championship to their campus last year after three tries.
Two explosive teams collide on Tuesday in Game One of the 91st NCAA men’s volleyball best-of-three championship series at The Arena in San Juan.
Match is set at 2:00 p.m. aired live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 and ABS-CBN Sports+Action HD Channel 166 and also via livestream at sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/ncaa.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Howard Mojica spearheads EAC’s title-retention bid against a team the Generals beat in the elimination round and in a playoff for the No. 1 seeding in the Final Four.
The Generals outlasted the San Beda Red Spikers last Friday in the semifinals, 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 15-9, behind Mojica’s 31 big points.
“Alam naman natin na mahirap na kalaban ang Perpetual,” said coach Rodrigo Palmero, who steered the Generals to their fourth straight Finals appearance.
EAC won against the Altas in the elims, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17, last January 8 that halted Perpetual’s six-game winning run and denied the Las Pinas-based squad a chance for an outright championship berth with a thrice-to-beat advantage. The Generals again dealt Perpetual another loss in a playoff for the semis top seeding, 21-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-19, last week.
Still, Palmero is wary of the Altas’ championship pedigree.
“Talagang mahirap silang kalaban kasi alam nyo naman si coach Sammy (Acaylar) isa 'yan sa pinakamagagaling na coach,” he said. “Iba 'yan magpatakbo ng mga players, kaya mas mahirap silang kalaban kasi experienced team din 'yan.”
Perpetual returned to the Finals after falling short last year in the round robin semifinals, knocking out the previous season’s runner up College of St. Benilde Blazers, 33-31, 25-22, 23-25, 23-25, 15-9, in a cliffhanger Friday.
“It’s challenging,” said Acaylar of their match against EAC. “Ako kasi gusto ko laging underdog. Maganda 'yun kasi kumbaga sa team na ganyan na lagi kang talo ng talo ibig sabihin may kulang pa kami. Ibig sabihin mag-strive hard pa kami. Na kailangan namin ng more strategies and more studies sa kalaban namin.”
“Natsa-challenge ako talaga. EAC is hindi 'yan basta-basta na team. They are good kasi defending champion sila,” added Acaylar.
The Altas defeated the Generals in their previous two championship meetings in Season 88 and Season 89.
Bonjomar Castel, brothers Rey and Relan Taneo, Allan Salaan, setter Warren Katipay and Jack Kalingking will carry the fight for Perpetual against Mojica and his wrecking crew of Kerth Melliza, Israel Encina and Hariel Doguna.
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