SEA Games: Really heartbreaking, really frustrating -- Valdez on bronze medal loss

Mark Escarlote on Dec 09, 2019 10:12 PM
Really heartbreaking, really frustrating -- Valdez
Nanghihinayang siyempre. When you’re outside, you can’t contribute anything -- Alyssa Valdez (Photo courtesy of Arvin Lim)

Alyssa Valdez helplessly watched from the sidelines as Indonesia made a last stretch run to steal the bronze medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition.

She couldn’t help but feel a sense of regret for not being on court in what could’ve been a chance to end a 14-year medal drought for the Philippines in the biennial meet.    

“Nanghihinayang siyempre. When you’re outside, you can’t contribute anything,” said Valdez, who rode the bench in the fourth and fifth set of the Nationals’ 20-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, 14-16, loss to Indonesia on Monday in the battle for bronze at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Monday.

But the hitter, who had 14 points, understood the decision of head coach Shaq Delos Santos to stick with the same line-up that forced the fifth set.

After all, the Nationals went close to just a point away, 14-12, from claiming a spot in the podium since the 2005 edition of the regional sports meet with a rotation sans Valdez.  

“It’s the decision of our coaches naman,” said Valdez. “Feeling ko mas nakikita nila kung ano yung mga kailangan ng team. So yun yung best decision na nangyari.”

“Maganda rin naman hanggang dulo, lumaban din naman yung team,” Valdez added.

But the bronze wasn’t meant for the Filipinas, who never got a chance to score again after Ces Molina’s match point off the block kill.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s really heartbreaking, really frustrating,” said Valdez. “But I think, sabi nga nila sa loob kanina, if it’s not for us, if it’s not our time, it’s not our time.”

Setter Jia Morado just like Valdez played off the bench in the last four sets after starting in the first. She saw limited minutes in the fourth frame and was subbed out in the closing stretch of the deciding set.

But she knew Delos Santos had a game plan in mind and those inside the court played their hearts out just like she would if she was there.  

“Para sa akin, everyone naman is ready to play. Everyone is ready to step up,” said Morado. “So it's the coaches’ decision talaga kung sino ipapasok nila. Kami, kahit sinong ipasok or di kami gamitin, basta manalo para sa bayan, okay kami.”

Meanwhile, Delos Santos stood by his decision.

“Actually, yesterday, nag-usap na kami siyempre kung ano ang magiging diskarte ng coaches ire-respect. For us kasi, ako especially ako kasi ako ang naga-ano, di naman totally dahil hindi gagamitin or what pero yung timing, yun diskarte,” justified Delos Santos. “Siguro yung sitwasyon lang din na siyempre may nagi-step up din, merong ibang teammate niya na nagiging OK.”

The second year mentor stuck with a rotation with middle Mika Reyes paired with Majoy Baron at the frontline, Ces Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure at the wings with veteran playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan and libero Dawn Macandili in the fourth frame that paid dividends.

They carried the momentum up until the closing moments of the fifth frame when the Nationals went up, 12-8.

But it didn’t end the way the Nationals wanted it to be.

The medal drought extended for another year.

Compounding the heartbreak was the fact that the Nationals lost all of their four games in the competition to finish fourth in a field of four - the worst finish for the Filipinas since their return in 2015 when the Nationals won one game in the Singapore edition and another one two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.

 

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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