Australia breaks Power Pinays’ 2-game winning streak

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NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand — The Philippine national women’s volleyball team failed to extend their winning streak to three as they yielded to Australia in straight sets at the Asian Volleyball Championships on Thursday, September 19, at the MCC Hall, The Mall.

After winning back-to-back games against Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the Power Pinays were turned back by the Australians, 25-22, 25-15, 25-23, and was booted out of contention to be in the 9th to 10th place of the competition.

The PH team fought tooth and nail against their adversary and was almost successful in snatching the 3rd set to extend the game but to no avail.

After tying the game 22-all in the final frame, the national team faltered as the Aussies scored 2 consecutive points with an attack and an ace which brought them to match point.

Team captain Angge Tabaquero countered through an attack from the middle to keep the hopes of breaking into the top 10 alive, 23-24, but Australia proved to be too strong as they ended the match via an emphatic crosscourt kill.

“Ang problema, ang bilis bumaba ng morale niyo,” said head coach Ernesto Pamilar to the girls during their post-game huddle. “Natalo lang kayo sa unang set na dikitan, bumigay na kayo sa second.”

Honey Royse Tubino led the PH spikers with 10 points off 7 attacks and 3 blocks followed by Wenneth Eulalio and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas with 8 points apiece.

Charge it to experience

After failing to at least duplicate the 9th place finish of the last PH team sent to the AVC back in 2005, the Power Pinays will battle first-day tormentor India, who finished them off in straight sets as well, to contest the 11th spot.

Pamilar believes, though, that their lopsided loss in the tournament opener was due to the team’s lack of experience and exposure.

“Kulang sa time mag practice together ang team,” he said. “Tapos dagdag mo pa na karamihan sa kanila, first time sa international scene.”

After going head-to-head against Asia’s best of the best, the head coach thinks his wards are already capable of avenging their loss to India.

“Gamay na ng setter ang spikers niya,” said Pamilar. “Tapos yung injury ni Angge, okay na.”

“Bukas, lalaban itong mga to.”

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End it with a bang

Though unable to break into the top 10, the people behind the PH team are still pleased with how the girls performed in the Asian Volleyball Championships, which will have its last few games tomorrow, Friday, September 20.

“I don’t want you to feel down,” said Philippine Volleyball Federation officer, Doc Ian Laurel. “You may have lost, but you made the country proud.”

“The trip back home will be so much sweeter if we end the campaign with a win!” he exclaimed.

Pamilar mirrors Laurel’s thoughts to boost the Power Pinays’ morale.

“Kalimutan niyo ang talo.” said Pamilar. “Isipin niyo ang laban bukas.”

“Ibigay niyo na lahat! Para sa sarili niyo at para sa bayan!”

Photos courtesy of DJ Bianca Frost

Power Pinays enter top 12

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NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand – The Power Pinays officially enters Asian Volleyball Championships top 12 after delivering a dominating performance via a 3-set win against Myanmar at the MCC Hall, The Mall 25-18, 25-22, 25-18.
With the team’s morale at an all-time high following their first win against Sri Lanka, the Philippine national women’s volleyball team showed no mercy as they charged towards the next round of competition; 9th to 12th classification games.
Team captain Angge Tabaquero could not contain her happiness as she relays how big of a dream come true this is for her.
“Sobrang saya!” she exclaims.
“Ang isang panalo, achievement na dahil bago kami.” said Tabaquero. “Eh naka-dalawa pa! Tapos 3 sets pa. Happy fiesta!”
Head coach Nestor Pamilar shares the same sentiments regarding today’s win.
“Ang taas nung pressure nung una. Pero kami, trabaho lang.” he said. “Ang tanging pananagutan namin eh magdala ng karangalan sa bansa.”
“At sa tingin ko, ngayong pasok na tayo sa top 12, mission accomplished tayo diyan.”
The rebirth of Philippine volleyball
The Filipino volleyball aficionados were initially divided when the Power Pinays lineup was released.
While most of the fans are voicing out their support, it was inevitable that some were not satisfied on who made the final cut.
Doc Ian Laurel, the man behind the dream to revive the national volleyball program, admits PH could’ve sent a stronger delegation.
“We wanted to get the biggest and the best but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we failed.” said Laurel.
“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
“These girls may not be the strongest but they certainly have the biggest heart to fight for our country’s pride.”
Pamilar, on the other hand, still looks forward to having these marquee names in collegiate volleyball join the national team.
“Sinimulan natin. Nilatag natin ang programa.” he said. “Ngayong may suporta na galing sa mga kababayan at PLDT Fibr, umaasa tayo na sa susunod, sa tulong nila, mapalakas pa natin ang team na ito.”
Pamilar also addressed the people who doubted his wards’ ability to win games in the AVC.
“Sa totoo lang, malaking tulong sila.” said Pamilar.
“Dahil sa kanila, natuto mga players ko na mag pursige. Hindi para ipahiya yung mga hindi naniwala kundi para patunayan na deserving sila sa suporta.”
Now that the Power Pinays are already assured of a place in the top 12, Pamilar had nothing but one word for those who supported and those who doubted.
“Salamat.” he humbly said.
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Still a lot of work to be done
Honey Royse Tubino top-scored for the Pinays with 8 attacks and 4 blocks amassing 12 points followed by wing spikers Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Analyn Joy Benito with 11 and 9, respectively.
Though the games were not televised, Filipinos celebrated every point as they tune in to Twitter updates that were provided online.
The hash tag #FibrPowerPinays became the number one trending topic in the Philippines as the nation showered the girls with thousands of congratulatory messages.
Laurel is happy about the attention and the support but reminds everyone that work does not end here.
“Sa suporta lahat nagsisimula.” he said. “Pero it doesn’t mean na nakuha mo na yan (support), titigil ka na.”
“Ang goal natin, mapataas ang level of play ng volleyball. Nasimulan na natin. Kailangan tuloy-tuloyin na.”
Myanmar’s head coach, Banterng Kaopong, believes this Filipino squad will go a long, long way.
“With good program, they will be strong again in Asia.” he predicted.
Enumerating reception, power tips and strong serves as PH team’s strong points, the Myanmar coach, who is originally from Thailand, foresees Philippines’ ascend in the international volley scene.
“I think the PH team is very strong,” he said.
“All they have to do is to keep joining international leagues for experience and they will be big.”
Photos courtesy of DJ Bianca Frost

Power Pinays grab win number one

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NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand – The Philippine national women’s volleyball team showcased clutch via a 5-setter match as they notch their first win against Sri Lanka at the Asian Volleyball Championships 19-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11.
 
With a slow start on the first frame, the PH team had to extend the match down to the wire as they banked on veteran Aiza Maizo’s experience to get the elusive victory.
 
Coach Ernesto Pamilar had nothing but good words for the MVP performance of his prized utility spiker.
 
“Walang dudang magaling!” said Pamilar. “Pinanindigan niya lahat ng sinabi niyang magta-trabahao siya sa likod (floor defense).”
 
The UST alumna led the team with 22 points from 16 attacks, 5 blocks and a service ace and was provided with good support from Tabaquero’s 19 points, Benito’s 11 and Tubino’s 10.
 
“Pag nasa harap yan, di mo kailangan mag timeout.” continues Pamilar. “Alam niya kung kalian kailangan um-iscore at gagawan niya ng paraan maipuntos lang niya.”
 
Sri Lanka’s Somarathna had 19 big points off 15 spikes, 2 blocks and 2 service aces followed by Madumali and Chamarika with 12 and 8, respectively.
 
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A new volleyball era
 
Though it is just the team’s first win in 4 games, the Power Pinays, along with the Filipinos that came to the MCC Hall to witness the game, went wild as the girls ended the 5th and last set with 6 straight points.
 
Lefty Aiza Maizo, who contributed 3 of the last 6 points, including the game-winning shot, was humbled and happy about the game’s outcome.
 
“Siyempre sa dami ng nagda-doubt sa kakayahan nung team, masaya na naka-panalo kami.” she said. “Hindi madali lumaban kung pati kababayan mo dina-down ka. Pero laban sige lang ng sige!”
 
The win against Sri Lanka gives Pamilar and his wards an opening to battle for positioning to rank 9th-12th in the tournament.
 
This is already a big leap from their current 16th standing.
 
“Pag nanalo tayo sa Myanmar bukas, lalaban tayo for placing.” said Pamilar. “If we win that, we have a chance to place 9th as highest possible and 12th sa lowest.”
 
Pamilar believes this win will do wonders for the Power Pinays’ campaign at the AVC and future international leagues as well.
 
“If we rank higher than Indonesia and Myanmar, almost sure nang ipapadala din tayo sa SEA Games.” he said. “That is how crucial our ranking will be.”
 
Pilipinas volleyball on the rise
 
Though beating one of the lower seeded team may not seem like a big achievement to the critics, the win against ranked 13th Sri Lanka means everything to this new squad.
 
After missing out on sending a delegation to the biennial meet for eight years, the Philippines returned and received rave reviews from internationally renowned coaches.
 
After the praises given by China’s legendary coach Lang Ping, Sri Lanka’s Wannithilaka said the Philippine team’s strong showing surprised him.
 
“We don’t know how they play. We didn’t know what we’re up against,” he admitted. “They really caught us off-guard.”
 
His team, which played with 4 injured bench players, yielded the last 2 two sets of the game to the peaking Power Pinays.
 
“I think they won because of their powerful attacks,” said Wannithilaka.
 
“This team is strong and will get stronger in the coming years.”

Power Pinays crash out of the semi finals

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NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand, September 15, 2013 – The Philippine national women’s volleyball team had a measly output as they lost their 3rd straight game at the Asian Volleyball Championships against China, 25-9, 25-10, 25-8.
Pitted against a much taller and more experienced squad, the Power Pinays came into the match clearly as the underdogs with a tough task at hand; battle the defending champs of the biennial meet.
According to China’s head coach, Lang Ping, there are lessons that they could take from this match regardless of how easily they won it.
“I think today is different. They are pretty short,” she said. “There are some irregular balls. Drop balls. We don’t have that. We’re learning.”
Darlings of the crowd
The newly formed team from PH went into volleyball oblivion after going off the radar for the past three AVC tournaments.
Despite the loss, the Power Pinays seemed to have captured the attention of the fans not only from home, but from the host country as well.
Ranked 16th, the girls are considered the bottom dogs in each of their matches. And sometimes, that’s all you need to get the audience to cheer for you.
After a dismal first two sets, the Philippine team rallied at the 3rd through their good floor defense to close the gap 6-8, to the delight of the crowd.
“They’re happy when they are playing.” said China’s coach. “Their passing was really good. In time, they will improve.”
Continuous improvement
Showing grit and persistence, the girls made China work hard for every point as they dig and receive the attacks sent their way.
This resulted to rallies that elicited dozens of oohs and aahs from the people in attendance at the Chatchai Hall.
Head coach Nestor Pamilar explains the decision to use ace libero Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone did wonders for the team.
“Kahapon ko pa plano gamitin si Tatan (Gata) against Iran. Kaso hindi pinayagan maglaro dahil walang picture yung official ID niya.” said Pamilar.
“Kasi ang habol ko, yung mabilis ang galaw. And she proved na siya yun.”
Pamilar compliments the girls’ efforts in saving the ball regardless of their clear disadvantage in exposure and cohesion.
“Nakita naman natin, pag pinapaluan sila, naitataas nila.” he said. “Maliban sa malakas yung kabila, kulang lang talaga sa kumpyansa ang mga bata.”
“We’ll get there. With hard work, we will.”
The captain is missing
The PLDT Fibr-sponsored team missed the services of team captain Angge Tabaquero due to the injury limitations of her sprained ankle.
Team Physician Raul Alcantara advised Tabaquero to rest the injury and just prepare for the matches that they have bigger chances of winning.
“Gusto maglaro eh. Siyempre China. Gusto niya ma-experience.” said Alcantara. “But we didn’t want to risk it. We don’t want it to get worse.”
Pamilar describes Angge as a real fighter.
“She feels bad na di siya makalaro. Gusto tumulong sa team eh.” he said. “Sabi ko na lang, mas makakatulong siya, pag gumaling siya agad.”
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A positive outlook towards the team’s future
Regardless of the low output on their last game, coach Nes Pamilar still thinks his wards would go far.
For him, this is one of the strongest national volleyball teams we have come up with in recent years.
“Si (Rosemarie) Vargas injured. Si Angge injured. Pero binibigyan pa din natin sila ng magandang laban.” he continues. “Mabuo lang natin yang first six na yan, mabigyan ng magandang exposure, malayo mararating niyan!”
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas top-scored for PH with 10 points from 9 attacks and 1 service ace followed by Honey Royse Tubino with 4, all from spikes.
China’s Zhu Ting had a field day with 12 attacks, 4 blocks and 3 service aces amassing 19 points while Hui Ruoqi and Zeng Chunlel provided good back up with 12 and 10, respectively.
“We will be working harder para mapataas pa ang ranking natin.” adds Pamilar.
“Kung nakaka-intindi ka ng volleyball, alam mong may ibubuga itong mga batang ito.”

When dreams and reality collide

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” -Anatole France

I don’t even know how to start this story but I just want to share it so I’m just gonna do that. Share it.

Growing up, I had nothing.

My family was one of those who considered it a big deal whenever we have money to eat at Jollibee.

A family wherein the main income was not from my mother nor my father because back then, they were young (they had me when they were both 17) and unemployed.

Food, school allowance, place to stay and everything else depended on what our relatives could give us.

It was tough.

At school, I skip lunch most of the time. On those times that I didn’t, it was because of my friend Sheila who was generous enough to share her school allowance with me.

I was one of those students who wore his leather shoes with his PE uniform. I was humiliated. But I guess that’s better than going barefoot.

That student who frequently missed out on the fun field trips? Yep. That’s me. We can’t afford it.

It was heartbreaking.

During typhoons, our house would creak and sway with the strong wind. It was too old that you don’t feel any safer inside than when you are outside.

A house situated in the informal settlers’ area where the most familiar sound comes from your neighbors. They are either fighting or chatting about their everyday lives.

It was crazy.

While all these tough, heartbreaking and crazy times were happening, I was doing one thing and only one thing. I was dreaming.

I was dreaming about the house I’d buy for my family when I save enough money to do so.

All the food I would eat when I don’t have to have a special reason anymore to eat at a fast food chain.

The trips and vacations I would take to compensate for all those that I’ve missed.

I would seriously stare at the roof (Yes, roof. We don’t have a ceiling.) for hours just dreaming.

And on those moments when times get too tough, I escape.

How? I watch UAAP games. I look forward to those 3 days. Wednesday/Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. On those days, regardless of how much unbearable my problems seem to be, I forget. I escape.

Remember that time I wrote “Why My World Revolves Around the UAAP?” That is exactly why.

My struggles never end. But so does my dreaming. Different hardships, different dreams.

Did you know that everything I wrote prior to this one, I did inside an internet shop? No? Now you do.

Not anymore. Thanks to you. Yes. You. The person reading this.

Because of your endless retweets, favorites, and countless visits on my blog, I was noticed by people who didn’t hesitate to give me breaks.

I always thought that the dream job must include a high pay. Because of Benggadora, I learned that it should only include two things. One, satisfying your passion. And two, changing people’s lives. My passion lies in sports and the lives I change are yours. When you smile, laugh or guffaw while reading my commentaries, it is, for me, a job well done.

And today marks another dream come true for me. The biggest, perhaps.

I will be flying to Thailand with the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team to cover the Asian Volleyball Championships.

I know. You can name more than a dozen people who deserve the job more than I do. But when an opportunity like this knocks on your door, you don’t tell it to knock someplace else. You let it in! And you make the most of it. You enjoy every single moment like it’s the best thing that has ever happened to your life.

By far, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to mine. And again, all thanks to you.

So, right now, you might be reading this while inside an internet shop dreading the “Time ka na!” call from the counter, craving for something you can’t afford like cronuts or simply escaping reality called life. Whatever the situation is, just keep dreaming. Hold on to it! Never mind people saying it is impossible.

Never let the circumstances hinder you from achieving. Instead, use it to inspire you to keep pushing. To keep fighting. Your dreams are just waiting around the corner. All you have to do is cross that busy road.

There will be hundreds of people doubting your abilities. But it only takes one to prove them all wrong. Your self.

Salamat, baks! Maraming, maraming salamat! 🙂