Idol ko siya -- Kim Fajardo on Army setter Tina Salak

Mark Escarlote on Jul 23, 2016 10:59 PM
Idol ko siya -- Kim Fajardo on Army setter Tina Salak
Kanina habang naglalaro ako pinapanood ko siya kung paano niya dine-deliver ‘yung bola sa mga teammates niya, sa mga spikers niya saka ‘yung never-say-die attitude -- Kim Fajardo

F2 Logistics and RC Cola-Army engaged in an exciting match that filled the stands at The Arena in San Juan and needed a full five sets to be decided.

The younger F2 Logistics claimed the victory 25-22, 25-14, 21-25, 26-28, 15-10, Saturday night to remain unscathed at the close of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference first round against the erstwhile unbeaten Army.  

At the center of this clash was the showdown between veteran setter Tina Salak of the Lady Troopers and Cargo Movers’ Kim Fajardo, considered as the Philippines’ next big playmaker.

For this particular night, Fajardo and her team defeated the seasoned court general she looks up to.

The UAAP Season 78 champion De La Salle team captain and FIVB Women’s Club World Championship-bound Fajardo scored 10 points and dished out 41 excellent sets.

She had nine more excellent sets than Salak and scored for more points but then again the setter who led the PHI to a bronze medal finish in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games played for four sets, sitting out the second while acting as a reserve in the opening frame.   

Fajardo said that she didn’t look at their numbers, she’s just thankful that she learned a lot in her first real game against Salak.          

“Every game naman is an opportunity to learn, hindi naman siya pataasan talaga, for me si Ate Tina kasi idol ko siya,” said Fajardo, who added that she did play a few tuneup games with Salak before but never imagined she’ll be facing a legend in an marquee game.


Learning from the best

Fajardo and Salak’s battle of wits became more of a setting clinic for the 23-year-old Cargo Mover. 

“Sobrang idol ko yun eh,” said Fajardo. “Kanina habang naglalaro ako pinapanood ko siya kung paano niya dine-deliver ‘yung bola sa mga teammates niya, sa mga spikers niya saka ‘yung never-say-die attitude.”

From the other side of the court, Fajardo was taking down a few pointers from Salak.

“Maganda ang balikan kanina, maganda ang rally pero nandoon ang focus niya. Alam niya kung kanino ibibigay at kabisado niya ang kasama niya,” Fajardo added.

The UAAP Season 78 Best Setter winner saw the beauty of Salak at work.

“May mga sets siya na mataas tapos mababa ganyan nya kakabisado ang team niya. Siguro yun ang pinakamaganda sa kanya. Kasi importante sa aming (mga setters) na kilala mo ang mga spikers mo kasi yun nga doon mo malalaman kung anong gusto,” she said. “By that doon mo matutulungan ang team mo na maka-point, manalo.”


Old hand at work

The Cargo Movers were throwing their weight around in the first two sets as Fajardo flawlessly sets up her teammates to attack Army’s defense.

She was able to locate an open Ara Galang, hand Abigail Marano a setup to deliver her patented runners or start a quick attack at the middle for Kim Dy and Mika Reyes while scoring for herself with dinks and heady placements.

Fajardo had her fair share of shining moments on those sets. But she did it while Army was struggling on offense because head coach Kungfu Reyes decided to nail Salak on the bench.

It didn’t take long for Salak to see action.

F2 Logistics coach Ramil De Jesus already anticipated Salak to turn things around.

He knew Salak and the Lady Troopers would eventually fire back.

The 39-year-old setter did.  

“Nagbalasa ng tao si coach Kung Fu saka kilala naman natin si Tina Salak talaga iba na yun,” said De Jesus. “Si Tina ang nagtimon ng team, ang mahirap na bola napapadali niya para sa spiker. Medyo doon kami nahihirapan mag-adjust.”

With Salak leading the counterattack, Army held on to win the third frame.

Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis – who both will also play for the PSL All-Star team in the World Club in Manila from October 18 to 23 – found their range with Salak acting as their crosshair.

Army showed composure in the fourth frame to claim the extended set and force a decider. 

De Jesus told his wards to play defense while making a few adjustments.

“Sinabi ko lang na kailangan lang nating dumepensa at kailangan lang nating mag-adjust kasi kung parehas lang yung gagawin natin sa third and fourth ganoon din ang magiging result,” he said. “Kailangang mag-receive kasi ang kompiyansa eh. Dapat hindi nawawala sa sarili sabi ko sa mga bata. Walang magbibigay sa sarili nila noon kundi sila.”

The Lady Troopers in the fifth set were obviously losing fuel and the Cargo Movers capitalized. 

F2 Logistics won this game.

Fajardo upended Salak in the stats game for this match.

Asked by a reporter if the changing of the guards is already in effect, Fajardo replied “No”.

She still has a lot to learn. She doesn’t want to be called the next Tina Salak yet.  

“Ako naman may sarili rin naman akong diskarte yun lang ang pagkakaiba namin,” she said while walking towards the exit.

Fajardo, maybe, is already thinking of their rematch less than 24 hours after their first meeting.





Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles


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