ON THIS DAY: PetroGazz dethrones Creamline for breakthrough PVL title

Mark Escarlote on Jul 14, 2020 08:15 AM
ON THIS DAY: PetroGazz dethrones Creamline
(Photo: Josh Albelda)

Even before PetroGazz stepped inside the court to face powerhouse Creamline for all the marbles, head coach Arnold Laniog already felt something historic was about to unfold.

“'Pag kita-kita namin para sa Game 3, sa dugout pa lang iba ‘yung vibes eh,” Laniog told ABS-CBN Sports.

Laniog’s hunch was true.

On this day a year ago, the Angels captured their breakthrough Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference championship at the expense of the star-studded and heavily favored Cool Smashers.

PetroGazz, who was just in its second year in the league, completed a come-from-behind series win to knock Creamline, which boasted of stars Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado, Risa Sato Michele Gumabao and imports Kuttika Kaewpin of Thailand and Venezuelan Ale Blanco, off the throne.  

Looking back, Laniog felt that he took over a team equipped with all the necessary pieces to vie for the crown.  

“Nu’ng nakita namin ang composition ng team last season sinabi namin kaya naming makipagsabayan,” said Laniog, who replaced Jerry Yee after he was promoted team consultant.

Indeed, the Angels landed caliber imports in American Janisa Johnson and Cuban Wilma Salas to complement their locals.

An early sign of great things to come for PetroGazz was its shocker of a win over Creamline.

The Angels whipped the Cool Smashers into submission in straight sets in Creamline’s first and only match under Chinese mentor Li Huanning before the team's management flew its champion coach Tai Bundit back from Thailand.

“’Yung first game namin against Creamline that conference parang ‘di sila. Siguro gawa nang changing of system nga,” said Laniog.

“Pero nu’ng bumalik si Coach Tai (Bundit) alam kong babalik ang regular system ng Creamline kung paano sila maglaro so sabi ko ‘yun ang magiging isang challenge. Which is nangyari nga sa last game namin sa second round saka ‘yung Game 1 namin,” he added.

Creamline avenged its opening day loss in its second round meeting with PetroGazz and took advantage of its experience to draw first blood in the Finals series opener.

“’Yung talo namin sa second round at sa Game 1 parang for us ibinigay lang namin ng ganoon kadali,” said Laniog.

“Noong natalo kami nu’ng Game 1 talagang di ko napigilan na nagalit ako sa dugout nu’n. Talagang pina-realize ko sa kanila na ‘Nandito na tayo sa Finals bakit di pa natin i-grab ang opportunity? Nandito tayo sa Finals na talagang kaya naman natin (manalo)’,” he continued. “Sinabi ko sa kanila na mag-commit tayo sa goal natin to get the championship.”

He got the response he wanted three days after their Game 1 loss.

“Noong natalo kami ng Game 1 nagising na. Sa practice namin nu’ng next two days bago ang Game 2 ay naging napakadali na ng proseso. Lahat ng instructions na sinabi namin nu’ng natalo kami ng Game 1, nag-adjust kami ng position, nag-adjust kami ng pwesto,” said Laniog.

“Sa training pa lang nakita ko na parang may gusto na itong mangyari. Dun pa lang sa training nakita namin yu’ng pag-accept nila sa pinag-usapan namin na kunin ang championship,” he added.

That Game 2 win was not only crucial to extend the series but it also tipped the momentum to the Angels' side.

Creamline didn’t have the luxury to adjust with the deciding match scheduled just 24 hours after in the highlands of Antipolo.

PetroGazz seized the opportunity.

“Nu’ng nanalo kami ng Game 2 wala nang training kasi kinabukasan na ang Game 3. It’s an advantage for us na naging ganoon ang situation,” Laniog said. “The momentum is on our side tapos ‘yung init ng momentum namin na manalo ng championship nandoon pa. Pero sabi ko nga di ganoon kadali ‘yun.”

Behind Johnson and Salas, the Angels came out firing on all cylinders as they grabbed the opening set of Game 3 in dominant fashion.

Creamline equalized in the extended second frame but all it did was delay the Cool Smashers’ impending defeat.

In front of the 5,710-strong crowd inside the Ynares Sports Center, PetroGazz humbled Creamline, 25-15, 28-30, 25-23, 25-19, and became the third team to bag the coveted import-laden tournament title.

“Kahit papaano nakatulong sa amin ‘yung adjustment namin na naging ganito ang rotation eh hindi sila handa,” shared Laniog. “Eh wala nang training or preparation for the third game kaya naging advantage for us.”

Salas poured 30 points off 26 kills and four kill blocks while Johnson displayed her all-around game 23 markers, 18 excellent receptions and 13 digs. Locals Jonah Sabete, Cherry Nunag, Jeanette Panaga, setter Djanel Cheng and libero Cienne Cruz played their roles well to contribute for the cause.

“’Yung mga import nag-provide talaga on offense pero ‘yung iba like ‘yung defense, ‘yung position nila sa block talagang nagampanan naman ng mga locals namin,” said Laniog.

On July 14, 2019, the Angels became champions.



Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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