Family-like closeness helped Wrecking Balls pull thru
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 05, 2017 10:56 AM
The Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls, playing inspired volleyball, jubilate after knocking out the Philippine Army Troopers in straight sets Wednesday to move to the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League organized by Sports Vision in partnership with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball. Team manager Sam Gaddi (in yellow tee) raises both hands in jubilation while coach Arnold Laniog (immediately behind Gaddi) applauds his players. (Photo by Azcharey Cabrera)
Amid the rubble of Philippine Army’s shattered semifinal dreams, Sta. Elena Construction celebrated, its hopes for another medal finish in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference getting a terrific boost as the Wrecking Balls position themselves for a Top Four clash against Reinforced Conference champion Cignal HD Spikers on Saturday, Aug. 5.
Coach Arnold Laniog vigorously congratulated the Wrecking Balls, bronze medalists in the Reinforced Conference, for a job excellently done after they knocked out the Army Troopers, 25-17, 25-22, 29-27, in their sudden-death playoff Wednesday.
The amiable coach, one of the few who never berate their players, was grinning from ear to ear over his team’s balanced offensive which saw four of his players scoring in double figures.
Equally with team captain Berlin Paglinawan’s 20 points and 10 apiece by Isaah Arda, Paolo Pablico and Israel Encina, coach Laniog and team manager Sam Gaddi also credited Sta. Elena’s advance to the Top Four to the brilliant Nico Ramirez’s wizardry as a setter and the Wrecking Balls’ family-like closeness.
“Off the court,” said Gaddi, “they take care of one another. They stay a while after a game or practice for more bonding time, or offer rides to those who commute. Berlin would even offer his house to teammates who live in the provinces to stay in or sleep over.”
Ramirez, who hails from Pampanga, is now staying with the Paglinawans in Taguig.
His team captain, according to the former Adamson Falcon, may always be raising the hackles of their opponents during a game or forever courting a referee’s yellow card, but “Berlin is one of the nicest and warmest fellows hereabouts. He’ll volunteer to look after you even if you don’t ask for it. He is our Big Brother off the court and a born leader, even if he is somewhat pesky, on it. Anytime, though, I’d like to be on the same team with him.”
How does coach Laniog assess their chances against the more star-studded HD Spikers of coach Oliver Almadro?
“We will give them a good fight,” said Laniog, who last season handed College of St. Benilde its first NCAA men’s crown. “If the result of our first meeting against Cignal in the elimination and the way we beat Army in the knockout playoff are any indications, then we have as great a chance at the tile as the other teams in the semifinals.”
With Paglinawan hitting 16 points, the Wrecking Balls extended the HD Spikers to four sets before losing, 22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 20-25.
The Mega Builders are playing Philippine Air Force in the other semifinal playoff.