POCARI SWEAT: Insatiable thirst for glory
Mark Escarlote on Sep 22, 2016 02:03 PM
Ang mindset namin ay kami ang naghahabol at kami ang may dapat na patunayan -- Pocari Sweat team captain Michele Gumabao
After conquering the Open Conference in their first stint in the V-League, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors' thirst for glory remains insatiable.
“Ang mindset namin ay kami ang naghahabol at kami ang may dapat na patunayan,” the bold statement of Lady Warriors veteran Michele Gumabao as the team prepares for the Reinforced Conference of the 13-year-old league.
Pocari Sweat will parade an almost intact core in the tournament set to unfold on October 1 with the inclusion of a pair of towering American imports in Bre Mackie and Andrea Kacsits.
Back in action for the Lady Warriors are Gumabao, Open Conference Finals Most Valuable Player and prolific scorer Myla Pablo, seasoned libero Melissa Gohing, Elaine Kasilag, Siemens Dadang and playmaker Gyzelle Sy with most of the championship core.
“’Yung core namin we really tried to get all of them to come back. Sa second six namin we had to let go of some,” said head coach Rommel Abella, adding that they released military personnel Lutgarda Malalauan and Rossan Fajardo to return to their mother units. “Pero overall, the team remained intact for this conference.”
Filipino-American setter Iris Tolenada is also back in the fold, giving Abella a favorable dilemma in choosing a playmaker to field.
“Ang tingin ko naman d'yan is compete for the job,” he explained. “If we think that Iris is going to be more effective siya ‘yung gagamitin namin but if we think Gy is gonna be better suited for the imports and the locals siya ang gagamitin namin.”
Abella said that the Lady Warriors are feeling the pressure to deliver in this conference as Pocari Sweat is considered the title-favorite in the 8-team field.
“Grabe talaga ang pressure ngayon. Noong Open Conference kasi we knew we were a strong team pero since bago lang kami sa liga nangangapa kami and there was no expectations at all,” said the mentor, who replaced Open Conference coach Tai Bundit. “Pero ngayon nga because we’re a champion team right now so there’s added pressure to try to do it again.”
“But I think looking at the girls medyo upbeat naman sila for this coming conference so sa tingin ko malaki naman ang chance namin to be the champion again,” he added.
The Lady Warriors in the Open Conference overcame huge obstacles on their way to the throne.
After surviving a couple of injury woes, Pocari Sweat needed to comeback from a 0-1 semifinals series deficit against the favored BaliPure Water Defenders composed of former Ateneo players led by Alyssa Valdez.
The Lady Warriors again crawled from behind in the Finals series against the veteran Philippine Air Force. Pocari Sweat lost the series opener before winning the next two games to bag the title.
Looking at the competition this time, Abella has high hopes that they will end up with another championship trophy.
“Personally speaking very confident ako (na mag-champion) kasi intact ang lineup ko plus the two imports. Very strong ang team and confident ako na we’ll go a long way in this tournament,” he said.
But the team still needs to adhere to its mindset in this conference.
“Ang mantra namin for this tournament gaya ng last conference namin, we just have to take this one game at a time,” he said. “Di namin pwedeng i-bypass o i-overlook ang ibang mga teams kahit pa sabihin ng iba na medyo mahina o hindi masyadong malakas. We just can’t overlook any team eh.”
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