ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – After coming up short in Antique last year, Calabarzon finally claimed the softball gold in the secondary division of the Palarong Pambansa 2018 here on Friday, April 20.
From settling for fourth last year, Calabarzon overcame defending champion Western Visayas in the semifinals and dumped National Capital Region, 9-0, in the finals to bag the championship and complete a tournament sweep.
Calabarzon pitcher Royevel Palma said that the team did not expect to shut out NCR, one of the powerhouse teams in the annual multi-sporting event.
“Last year po second sila tapos pang fourth lang kami noon. Kaya happy po kami sa hindi namin ineexpect na pangyayari,” she said.
[They were second placers and we were just fourth placers last year. That's why we're very happy because we didn't expect that it woud turn out that way.]
“So blessed po kasi as we expected po, kaya namin po lahat, [at] dahil pinaghandaan namin itong Palaro. Happy po kami kasi yung expectation namin, nagawa po namin, nag-champion po kami,” Palma said.
[We are so blessed. We expected that we can do it because we prepared hard for Palaro. We're happy because we met all our expectations.]
The young athlete, who still has a year left to play for Calabarzon, said teamwork led them to claim gold.
“Madami na rin pong tournament kami na nagsama, then kami-kami pa rin naman yung magkakasama,” Palma added.
[We've played in other tournaments before and until now, we've been under the same team.]
Coach Ronnel Landicho noted that the victory is a good “comeback” for the team, adding that the players did not give up in their chase for gold.
“Lagi namang every year ito ang target ng aming team. Mas maganda ngayon dahil twice naming nakalaban yung defending champion [Western Visayas] at twice din naming tinalo [sila], at ito na nga kami [sa finals].”
[This is our target every year. This year, we were able to beat the defending champions Western Visayas twice; and here we are now in the finals.]
He added that this much-needed win also served as a parting gift for his graduating players.
“May players kami na last season na ngayon so ito yung regalo para sa bawat isa sa mga gagraduate. Napakagandang biyaya ito sa lahat,” the coach said.
[We have players who are now in their final season. So this is a great parting gift for them, for all of us.]
Photo by Gerard Josef Lucena
Landicho said that the remaining players will have to train harder, while sending a message to athletes who will bid the team farewell.
“Wag lang nilang kakalimutan lahat ng natutunan nila. Kung ano yung kanilang pinagmulan, wag kakalimot na bumalik kasi lahat ng natutunan nila dito, madadala nila at maiaapply nila sa susunod na laro nila,” he said.
[They must not forget all what they learned in their games. They should remember to look back because they can apply all that they learned here in their future games]
The coach also praised the team’s teamwork and camaraderie.
“Hindi [nila] pinakita na nagsa-shine lang yung isang player. This is a whole team so [they must] work as a team,” Landicho added.
[They didn't show that there's only one player standing out. This is a whole team, so [they must] work as a team.]
Despite the loss, NCR’s Trisha Mae Tiozon said their players still blessed and thankful that they were able to compete in the championship game.
“Sobrang nakakatuwa po na mapasama sa championship game. Kahit na silver lang po ang nakuha [namin], but still kami yung lumaban sa finals,” Tiozon said.
[It's overwhelming to be part of the championship game. Even though we only got a silver medal, we're still able to play in the finals.]
Like Calabarzon, most of NCR’s players will bid good bye to the team. Tiozon is one of them.
The stalwart hopes the team will be able to clinch gold next year by learning from their weaknesses this year.
“Siguro po [nagkaroon kami ng] miscommunication. Yung pagiging nervous [at] emotional condition namin [naging] weakness…Pero, i-work out pa nila [ang mga ito] para mag-improve at maging effective pa lalo yung team,” she said.
[We had a lot of miscommunication. We were nervous and emotional. These were our weaknesses. I hope the team works this out for them to improve and be effective next time.]
Tiozon wished her teammates to work hard in order to still be part of the championship game next year.
Coach Virgilio Jun Cruz said this roster gap is a challenge for next year, saying that their gameplan is to ensure continuity of the team while enhancing their grassroots program.
“Grassroots program namin from the grade school up to grade 8 ay aangat na next year so yun ang pineprepare namin for next na Palaro. Most of the [players of] Region 4-A ay talagang training ground na ng RP. Sa NCR naman, most of them are just students,” he said.
[We're preparing new players from our grassroots program for next year. Most of the players of Region 4-A are training under the national team. In NCR, most of them are just students]
“Yung mga bata naman, well-prepared sila for the finals. Kaya lang, talagang yung kalaban namin is siguro mas prepared sa amin,” the coach said.
[The students were well-prepared for the finals. Perhaps this time, the other team was more prepared.]
Cruz said they will “make sure” that NCR will be “more prepared” next year by conducting a year-round program for softball in Manila. – Rappler.com