Intal: ĎIím not used to losing in two or three yearsí

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 08, 2017 12:22 PM
  Intal: ĎIím not used to losing in two or three yearsí
Done with his five-year UAAP duty for the Ateneo Blue Eagles, dashing Rex Intal seems a much looser player now on the court, ready with his smiles and congratulatory pats and cheers for his Cignal teammate who has scored. (Photo by Azcharey Cabrera)

So said Rex Intal, referring both to his glorious years in the UAAP when he figured prominently in the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ three straight championships and more recently to his new team Cignal Tv’s two defeats in the Premier Volleyball League.

Intal, holder of two diplomas in Information Design as a major and Management as a minor, started in both matches the HD Spikers lost so far – to back-to-back champion Philippine Air Force, 28-30, 19-25, 21-25, in the elimination round and to Sta. Elena Construction, 20-25, 26-24, 22-25, 28-30, in Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinal duel.

“It felt strange to lose twice after two or three years of winning all your matches,” said the former Atenean as he recalled those two occasions when the HD Spikers had bitten the dusts. “It was another learning experience for me. I guess I have to jell more with the team and find more ways to contribute. As a team, we have to strengthen the areas where we need further improvements.”

Coach Oliver Almadro, Intal’s mentor in his Ateneo years, and the HD Spikers apparently prepared well for their second semifinal meeting with the Wrecking Balls, making short work of the Richard Gomez-owned ball club, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22, to arrange a knockout Game 3 on Thursday, June 8.

Tuesday after taking Game 2, the HD Spikers were treated to a movie and dinner later in an apparent move at relaxation.

The Sta. Elena management did the same to its players.

Ateneo fans have observed that since suiting up for Cignal Tv, Intal has been more relaxed now on the court, freer with his smiles and cheers for a teammate who has scored in stark contrast to his UAAP days when, in staying single-focused to help Ateneo win a match, he rarely smiled and even hardly talked to his teammates.

“I train just as hard as before,” he said, “but on the court I try now to have a good time, to enjoy the game, and feel no pressure without necessarily letting my performance slip.”

Intal and Joshua Villanueva joined their champion coach on Cignal after a prolonged celebration of Ateneo’s third consecutive title triumph in the UAAP.

The prolific pair only had one training with their new teammates before the PVL, a joint undertaking of Sports Vision as organizer, Asics as official league partner, and Mikasa as official game ball, was launched  April 30.

Intal got to play only in the third game against Philippine Army.

He was sent in to the court late in the first set, scoring three points at once in three minutes, and was never pulled out en route to a 12-point production.

From then on, he has made the starting team of coach Almadro together with another former Ateneo teammate Ysay Marasigan.

But it is not so for Villanueva, converted from middle blocker to open spiker for Cignal. He only gets two or three minutes of playing time if ever he’s utilized at all, which is very rarely.

That’s another thing Intal feels strange about.

“I’m so used to having Josh (Villanueva) on the court and now…”

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