PetroGazz not slowing down amid pandemic
Mark Escarlote on Jul 14, 2020 05:02 PM
(Photo: Arvin Lim)
PetroGazz head coach Arnold Laniog remains confident with the competitiveness of the Angels despite losing a couple of key players this year and the long layoff brought by the health crisis.
Veteran hitter Paneng Mercado-de Koenigswater took a leave of absence due to pregnancy while PetroGazz parted ways with its starting setter Djanel Cheng following a successful campaign in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 last year.
The Angels filled the missing pieces in their lineup by signing prized hitters Gretchel Soltones and Jerrili Malabanan while tapping Ivy Perez to replace Cheng.
Laniog, who steered PetroGazz to a breakthrough PVL Reinforced Conference title exactly a year ago, told ABS-CBN Sports that the new recruits were already building chemistry with the holdovers before their preparation for the season was halted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Bago mag-pandemic, nabi-build naman namin ‘yung relationship nu’ng tatlong bago sa old players,” said Laniog. “’Yun naman ang gusto namin na ma-develop ‘yung relationship ng new players, para pagdating sa game o kahit sa ensayo walang ilangan ba. Para malabas natin sa kanila ang potential nila para sa team.”
Soltones, a former three-time NCAA Most Valuable Player, and Malabanan transferred to PetroGazz after their contracts with PLDT in the Philippine Superliga expired.
The duo will make their return to the PVL since helping BaliPure win the 2017 Open Conference title and then PayMaya to a runner-up finish in the 2018 Reinforced Conference.
The addition of the two hitters according to Laniog will give more depth to PetroGazz’s local roster especially with the PVL looking to hold the Open Conference this year once the government gives the green light for volleyball activities to resume.
“Very big addition talaga sila. Nakita namin ang potential ng dalawa, malaking bagay para sa rotation ng team. Naging mas malalim ngayon kahit sa all-Filipino,” Laniog said.
The mentor also pointed out that his holdovers are ready to fill in the shoes left by Mercado-de Koenigswater at the wing spot.
“Kasi ang mga players naman namin tini-train namin as universal,” said Laniog. “So ‘yung opposite pwedeng maging open. Nandyan naman si Cai Baloaloa, si Jonah Sabete na pwedeng maglaro sa opposite side and also Malabanan.”
Despite the ban on team training under the community quarantine, PetroGazz keeps a strict tab on its players. Making sure that they remain in tip-top shape through home workout activities and virtual team building sessions.
“Di pa rin namin tinatanggal ang condition ng katawan na nandoon pa rin sa fit level,” said Laniog. “Para anytime na i-allow na ng government na bumalik sa training ay ready sila.”
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