POCARI SWEAT: New coach, same thirst

Mark Escarlote on Jun 28, 2017 03:41 PM
POCARI SWEAT: New coach, same thirst
Pocari Sweat looks at a good start in their campaign for a fourth title.

Gunning for a fourth straight title, Pocari Sweat looks at the importance of starting its campaign in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference on the right foot.

Newly-appointed head coach Rico De Guzman doesn’t want the Lady Warriors to make a repeat of their awful start last conference especially in a short tournament.

Unlike the Reinforced Conference which Pocari Sweat ruled a few weeks ago, the Open Conference has a single round robin elimination stage where the top four teams in the 8-squad field will advance in the best-of-three semifinals.

So a good start is essential.

Something the Lady Warriors failed to do at the beginning of their import-laden campaign where they dropped their first two games. Good thing Pocari Sweat was able to recover after the league changed its format to double-round robin prelims after the delay of the foreign guest players’ International Transfer Certificate.

“Sabi ko sa sarili ko na ayaw kong maulit na unang dalawang games talo agad,” said De Guzman, who was promoted to head coach after the club management elevated former mentor Rommel Abella as director for player development.

The Lady Warriors will open its campaign against University of the Philippines on Sunday, July 2, followed by a duel with Xentro Mall-Perlas Spikers on Wednesday before their rematch against Reinforced Conference semifinals opponent Power Smashers.   

“So mahirap, talagang kailangan kong pag-isipan at kailangan kong pag-aralan,” said De Guzman, who steered Philippine Army to two titles in the V-League. “Hindi pwedeng bast-basta lang kung sino ang gagamitin ko. Sa una at dalawang games kailangan kami ang mangingibabaw.”

Pocari Sweat, which won the V-League Open and Reinforced Conference last year, will parade an an almost intact lineup with just Shola Alvarez and Sarah Espelita skipping the contest.

Alvarez needs to recuperate from a lower back injury while Espelita was cut from the team.

Back for another tour of duty are Finals Most Valuable Player Myla Pablo, Gyzelle Sy, Jessey De Leon, Desiree Dadang, Cai Nepomuceno, Elaine Kasilag, Jeannette Panaga, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Gayle Valdez and veteran libero Mel Gohing.

Beefing up the team is veteran Janet Serafica, who played for Creamline last conference. Pocari Sweat also tapped National University players Roma Doromal and Audrey Paran.

But even with a strong lineup, De Guzman knows they still need to address the only chink in their armor.

“Kailangan ko lang i-develop sa kanila ang first ball at service. Last conference napakadaming error,” he said. “Mas maraming ginawang mali kaysa dun sa ginawa nilang tama so doon kami nahirapan kaya nakakuha ang mga kalaban namin ng idea kung paano kami tatalunin. Sa opensa wala naman kaming problema.”



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