MANILA, Philippines – It took four games, but the defending Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference champion Chery Tiggo Crossovers finally broke through with its first win against the Black Mamba-Army Lady Troopers on Tuesday, March 22.
With reigning league MVP and Finals MVP Jaja Santiago out for the rest of the 2022 campaign due to her Japan V. League import stint, the team and its fans looked to her sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Mylene Paat to fill in the gaps as best as they could.
After the Crossovers saved their title defense campaign from the brink of an early and embarrassing end, Paat couldn’t help but simply be proud of her teammates for showing glimpses of a squad worthy of staying on as contenders.
“We came off losses, and we need to communicate inside the court, and between coaches and players. It all finally showed in the most important time,” the Thailand League Best Scorer said in Filipino after the win.
“We can’t just give up because we were about to be eliminated, and hopefully our communication and jelling continue to improve.”
In just three sets, Paat broke out with 20 points, while Manabat followed up a conference-best 29-marker outing with 17 points in the much-needed win that sealed a quarterfinals berth for the Crossovers.
Although Paat admitted that the pressure got to some of the players as the losses piled up, she said the team just decided to enjoy the game, and try to ease up so they may return to winning form.
“I’m so thankful that everyone was helping one another out,” she continued. “From the receptions, serves, sets, spikes, and defense, everyone just helped out.”
“Even in the dugout, we were helping out one another on everything, even with moving things around. That’s where you can see everyone’s eagerness to win.”
With the playoffs now on the horizon, Paat is hoping that Chery Tiggo’s rejuvenated camaraderie carries over, as they try to prevail as underdogs for the second straight conference.
“We need to train more, fix our weaknesses, and figure out where we can be effective. That’s what we’ll work on more,” she said. “We just need to prepare on who we will likely face from the other bracket.
“Whoever that may be, we really need to study more, study every single player that team has, how they move, where they might be weak at, and where they’re strong at. We really need to study more.” – Rappler.com