I trust my Filipino players -- PSL-F2 Manila coach Branislav
I trust my Filipino players -- PSL-F2 Logistics Manila coach Moro Branislav on Magnificent 7
I trust my Filipino players.
A simple statement by Philippine Superliga-F2 Logistics Manila Serbian coach Moro Branislav that could wash away all the criticisms the squad seemed to ceaselessly receive in the country’s first participation in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.
Doubts hounded the squad that local players won’t get enough playing time with seven foreign reinforcements including one Rio Olympian in Puerto Rican Lynda Morales.
But the mentor erased all doubts by maximizing the playing time of the Magnificent 7 composed of team captain Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Jaja Santiago, Ces Molina, Mika Reyes setter Kim Fajardo and libero Jen Reyes.
The host team bowed out of the semifinals race and has yet to win a match but on Friday night in front of the host crowd and against the defending champion Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, Branislav for the first time fielded an all-Filipino lineup in the second set.
Eczacibasi coach Massimo Barbolini didn’t play his main gunners which included Rio Olympics silver medalist Tijana Boscovic of Serbia the whole game to prepare his second unit in the semifinals Saturday. But the reserves he sent to take on the Filipinas in the second set are considered to be the best second stringers in the world.
The Magnificent 7 played the whole set with the crowd standing on their feet and cheering on top of their lungs. The all-Pinay team inside the court even held a 12-7 lead before eventually losing steam to the seasoned squad.
That frame was enough to put pride on the players inside and a sense of respect to Philippine volleyball with that gallant stand.
Daquis in an emotional moment thanked Branislav for the rare opportunity.
But that was just one of highlight of the historical night inside the MOA Arena.
Branislav again fielded an all-import team to open the third set just like what he did in the closing stretch of the first frame, before eventually putting the locals back.
The Turkish team built a 22-18 lead in the third and were already looking to end the night early.
PSL-F2 said no.
Santiago unleashed three straight service aces to tie the frame at 22. Eczacibasi reclaimed the lead with an attack before PSL-F2 made the highlight moment 3-0 rally that electrified the crowd capped by Ukranian reinforcement Zenya Nyukhalova kill.
The crowd went wild when the reigning queens failed to retrieve the ball.
History was made.
“This is the first time for a Philippine team to play in this big competition to win one set,” said the 54-year-olf Branislav. “This is the same 20 years ago for the Serbian national women’s volleyball team. The same start, to play for the first time in a big tournament and win one set.”
“This is one important set, this set will go into history for the Philippines in the Women’s Club World Championship,” he added. “You can see that my players are very happy. I planned for this situation for the seven Filipina players. I prepared this situation before.”
The final score was 25-17, 25-17, 23-25, 25-14, for Eczacibasi.
PSL-F2 Manila was relegated to the classification phase with no wins in the pool play.
It was another loss.
But the third set victory felt like a match triumph.
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