Its next Shakey’s V-League stint won’t come in three months, but Pocari Sweat is already beefing up for another crack at the championship.
“We know it will not be easy but we will give it our best shot to go for it again,” said Pocari Sweat team manager Eric Ty, moments after the Lady Warriors turned back the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers, 29-27, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19, in sudden death to claim the league’s Season 13 Open Conference crown on its very first try at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City late Monday.
He was referring to the Reinforced Conference set in October after the Collegiate Conference which fires off July 30.
In fact, the Lady Warriors have already signed up Fil-Am setter to beef up their already formidable roster, headed by Open Conference Finals MVP Myla Pablo, team captain Michele Gumabao, Elaine Kasilag, Gyzelle Sy, Siemens Dadang and Lutgarda Malaluan, who helped deliver the championship for Pocari Sweat.
“We have high hopes in the Reinforced Conference as well as optimism after our victory in the Open Conference,” said Ty.
Coach Tai Bundit of multi-titled Ateneo, who missed the whole of the Open Conference due to previous commitments, is also set to return for Pocari when it kicks off drive for No. 2.
Before the Reinforced Conference, however, the league, where it all started, holds its second tournament – the Collegiate Conference – with National U hard-pressed against a slew of talented teams out to foil its back-to-back title drive.
Pocari, then Philips Gold, also benefitted by its decision to jump from the other league to the Shakey’s V-League since it did not only win a title, it also gained television exposure with the league’s recent multi-year partnership with ABS-CBN, which aired all the games live on its free channel ABS CBN Sports and Action Ch. 23.
“It helped us in so many ways,” said Ty.
Meanwhile, interim coach Rommel Abella proved that with the right mix and motivation, the Lady Warriors could overcome the odds, including the star-studded BaliPure side in the Final Four, and eventually the Lady Jet Spikers.
“When the team was formed one week before the tournament started, we noticed the bond was formed early. They just clicked though they didn’t do something special in practice,” said Abella, who changed his style of coaching – from being strict to tact – that made it a lot easier for the Lady Warriors to adjust and communicate.
“The team is not hard to coach. I treat them like my younger sisters and they treat me as an elder brother,” said Abella. “I just coach them like I was giving out an instruction and not the bossy type.”
“It really helped in our communication,” he added.
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