Up until the last minute, Alyssa Valdez and the rest of her Customs teammates were blissfully unaware that imports Natthanicha Jaisaen and Kuthaisong Kanjana won’t see action against UP Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
Without the duo from Thailand, the Transformers’ preparations for a rotation that included them went down the drain due to the lack of documents, forcing the coaching staff to field in second stringers Fhen Emnas and Rizza Mandapat.
“Sobrang big factor naman talaga ng imports. Siyempre sa training also, we train with them so medyo nagulat din (na hindi sila naglaro),” admitted team captain Alyssa Valdez.
“But at the end of the day, ‘yung volleyball naman is a game na kailangan mo mag adjust in any circumstances. ‘Yun ‘yung kailangan namin gawin kanina and we’re really happy na nagawa naman namin siya,” she added.
Following her controversial move from Pocari Sweat to Customs, Rose Vargas did not disappoint when she lived up to her and Valdez’s ‘Double V’ tandem, firing off 17 points behind the skipper’s 18.
Emnas, who was not able to report to training on the eve of the match, showed nerves of steel, steering the offense of teh Transformers with 27 excellent sets.
While this is a new combination of players, Valdez, who is playing outside her comfort zone (read: without former Ateneo teammates) insisted their love for the sport will tide them through.
“It’s a different environment but we play the same sport. It’s volleyball,” she told the press. “At the end of the day, pare-parehas naman kami ng pinaninindigan at tine-training at pagmamahal sa sport. ‘Yun naman ang pinaghuhugutan namin to play and stick together.”
Next on Customs’ plate is their match against the revamped Laoag crew, who is now bannered by top tier outside hitters like Grethcel Soltones, Jema Galanza, Jorelle Singh and Jovielyn Prado.
According to separate interview with Customs head coach Sherwin Meneses, Jaisaen and Kanjana are sure to make their debut Wednesday which is exactly what Valdez hopes for despite the language barrier between the locals and the reinforcements.
“We would love to see them play and sana makita rin ng mga tao kung paano sila maglaro kasi definitely it’s worth watching talaga,” ‘The Phenom’ closed. —By Mac Dionisio