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MANILA, Philippines – All eyes were on new Petro Gazz head coach Oliver Almadro on Thursday, February 9, as his Angels took on his former team, the Choco Mucho Flying Titans.
Riding high after a 17-5 first set turnaround, Almadro and the Angels quickly proved their worth with a statement sweep of the Titans, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21, to bounce back from their opening-day sweep loss to Creamline.
Despite the narrative swirling around his win over his former team, Almadro was quick to swing the spotlight over to his new players after their early breakthrough win in the conference.
“I’m very thankful to them. It’s not about me, it’s them, considering I haven’t been with them for long,” he said in Filipino after the game.
“The only things I can add for now are motivation and character, but the skill, maturity, and hard work is there. They told me yesterday they will win it, so I believed in them.”
Under Almadro’s tutelage, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas turned back the clock with a game-high 19-point game to go with 14 excellent digs, while Gretchel Soltones and Jonah Sabete complemented with their own scoring surges.
Over at the other end, Choco Mucho looked lost on both offense and defense, as it fell victim to multiple off-speed plays from Petro Gazz and a forgettable playmaking display from starting setter Deanna Wong.
Almadro insisted, however, that his familiarity with the Titans did not play a factor in the Angels’ dominant win.
“They have a new system, so I don’t know what they’re doing,” he said. “We just played our game with what we have. That’s where we focused. I told them to focus on our own skills and character.”
“Whatever they put on us, we’ll just stay ready. I don’t think it helped that I knew their system before. For me, they prepared for it, we prepared for it. Every team must be prepared for. Choco Mucho is just one of the stops on the road, one of the teams we need to beat.”
With Choco Mucho now in the rearview mirror, Almadro and the Angels next shift their focus to the winless Cignal HD Spikers after a nine-day break on Saturday, February 18, 4 pm. – Rappler.com