Mau out of SEA Games roster, Maizo-Pontillas gets spot
Mark Escarlote on Nov 08, 2019 06:29 PM
Kalei Mau was ruled out of the national squad for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The Philippine national women’s volleyball team’s podium finish bid suffered a major blow after power-hitting Filipino-American Kalei Mau was ruled ineligible to see action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
In a shocking development, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Romasanta revealed Friday that the 6-foot-2 open spiker was scratched from the lineup after falling short of the required minimum two-year residency.
Mau, a University of Arizona standout in the US NCAA Division 1, came to the Philippines late last year and played for Cocolife in the Philippine Superliga before transferring to F2 Logistics where she won the All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player award and led the Cargo Movers to the throne.
She was called up for the national team and made a big impact for the squad. Mau helped the Nationals finish third in the ASEAN Grand Prix first leg, as the Filipinas shocked a then-complete Vietnam squad, forced Indonesia to a five-setter, and stole a set from powerhouse Thailand – the same teams that will vie for medals in the SEA Games.
Mau sat out the second leg in Sta. Rosa, Laguna because of an Achilles’ heel injury but was able to join the team in its 12-day Japan training recently.
Although Mau has been campaigning in the country, she remains affiliated under the United States Volleyball Association (USVA). Based on the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Asian Volleyball Confederation, a player who wishes to represent her country in an international competition such as the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics must be under her mother federation for at least two years.
LVPI had no other choice but to cut Mau from the roster to abide the Asian and world body’s rule.
“We don’t want to jeopardize whatever problem she may encounter along the way. She could get suspended if she plays without securing transfer papers from the federation,” said Romasanta. “I don’t know why she failed to submit the papers, but it really has to be her submitting it because she is a member. It's not the LVPI.”
The Nationals actually learned about this issue weeks back during their Japan training camp and tried to look for solutions in case Mau won’t get the greenlight to play.
Bite the bullet
The news of Mau ineligible to play added to the heartbreak that the Nationals have faced during the course of their build up for the SEA Games, which will open its volleyball competition on Dec. 2 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
“Malaking pagsubok na naman sa amin kasi adjustment na naman dun sa team,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos.
The Nationals already lost towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat as well as Filipino-American playmaker Alohi Robins-Hardy.
The Six-foot-5 Santiago and 6-foot-2 Manabat failed to secure their release from their respective clubs in the Japan Premier League while Robins-Hardy had trouble securing a Philippine passport on time.
Some players suffered injuries including hitter Alyssa Valdez (foot), who skipped the team’s Thailand training camp and the ASEAN Grand Prix opening leg while Mika Reyes is still recovering from a knee injury. The squad had to continue their Japan training camp without Valdez and setter Jia Morado, who had to return to Manila after just five days into the camp because of their club commitment with Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League.
“Simula ng mag-start kami ng [training] camp nandyan siya [Mau] tapos nagkaroon na naman ng conflict,” said Delos Santos, who is in his second year as mentor of the squad. “Siguro best thing na magagawa ng buong team, coaches, players, ng management, ng LVPI, kami kailangan din naming ma-accept na, na matanggap namin sa sarili namin na kakayanin namin kahit na maraming dumadating na problema o conflict kasi yun na rin naman ang goal natin dito kung paano buuin ang team.”
Maizo-Pontillas returns, Paat in dual role
With Mau out, Delos Santos has elevated reserve Aiza Maizo-Pontillas into the team.
The lefty Maizo-Pontillas, who played for the national team in the 2017 edition of the SEA Games in Malaysia, will be Mau’s replacement. She was with the team in its Thailand and Japan training camps.
Delos Santos is also looking at putting Mylene Paat in a dual role as opposite and open spiker with Maizo-Pontillas taking the main position at opposite.
“Si Aiza na ang ilalagay namin [for Mau]. Si Mylene kasi inaano namin, pero kasi sa Pilipinas nagagawa niyang maging outside hitter,” said Delos Santos. “Pero kailangan mas maaral pa niya o maibigay namin yung mga role n’ya as an outside hitter pero kasi siyempre iba pa rin ang galaw dun”.
“Pero I think konting adjustment na lang so ibibigay namin yung kailangan niyang i-improve at i-develop,” he added.
Anticipating the worst, Delos Santos during their Japan training was already giving Paat some extra workouts in both wing positions as well as working on her floor defense.
“Magiging dalawa ang puwesto n’ya in case na kailanganin namin siya sa outside. Pero may tatlo pa naman tayong outside hitters. Depende yan sa ilalaro at sa diskarte naming gagawin, dun na lang yun tatakbo,” said Delos Santos.
Even without Mau, the Nationals remain competitive with a solid core bannered by team captain Aby Maraño, Valdez, Morado, Reyes, Paat, Maizo-Pontillas, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maddie Madayag, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Kath Arado. Eya Laure and Ces Molina.
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