Returning coach Tai Bundit brings back ‘heartstrong’ mantra to Cool Smashers

With head coach Tai Bundit back at the helm, the Creamline Cool Smashers are bringing back their trademark ‘happy, heartstrong’ mantra to the tournament.

Creamline’s positive playing style gave them the third win of the tournament after overpowering Motolite in four sets, 13-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23, earlier in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center.

After a one-sided first set, the Cool Smashers turned their game around and snatched the next two sets, before surviving a late-game onslaught by Motolite in the fourth set to take the win.

Thai reinforcement Kuttika Kaewpin and national team mainstay Alyssa Valdez became Creamline’s scoring duo anew, leading their team with 17 and 13 points respectively.

The Cool Smashers started slowly in the opening set as they were caught off-guard by Motolite’s aggressive service game, struggling to deliver a good first ball to setter Jia Morado and get their attacks in.

After a blowout first set, Creamline regained form in the next two sets, stepping up in their reception and finally setting up plays anchored to their optimistic style of playing to take a two-set advantage.

The Cool Smashers looked to take the fourth set before Channon Thompson spearheaded a late-game comeback for Motolite, 23-24, but her efforts ultimately went to waste after a service error by setter Fen Emnas.

After the sacking of Huanning Li as head coach, Bundit came back to call the shots for the defending champions–and he went straight back to work.

With their bad performance in the opening set, Morado said the Thai coach wanted them to play happy and compete without pressure–instructions straight out of his ‘happy, heartstrong’ playbook.

“Hinihintay niya lang din na magising kami, kasi he just wanted us to go back to how we play in training–comfortably but focused–na hindi kita sa amin sa first set,” Morado said.

 

“He just asked to play happy, and the usual na ginagawa sa amin sa training,” she added.

Valdez, meanwhile, admitted the team is still adjusting to Bundit’s comeback, which only meant they need to bring back their positive style of play that they displayed in the previous conferences.

“Knowing Coach Tai’s program, most of us na nasa team niya, na-mentor na niya and napagdaanan na iyon. We’re trying to adapt sa pagbabalik sa system niya and I think more than ever we have to breing back the happy mantra and the heartstrong mantra of Coach Tai,” Valdez said.

Apart from the tangible skills, the team captain said the Cool Smashers’ mindset and attitude inside the court will be the crucial factor that separates them from the competition.

“I think iyon ang pinaka-crucial key this season kasi nga ‘yung teams, lahat malakas. But at the end of the day, we played happy naman on the other side and meron kaming strong hearts. Kailangan lang naming maging consistent sa part na iyon and we really have to train hard,” Valdez ended.

Creamline seeks to end their first round on a positive note as they take on the Balipure Water Defenders on Wednesday.

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