After finishing the preliminaries at an unfamiliar territory, BanKo-Perlas head coach Ariel dela Cruz had a sigh of relief as his wards begin today their bid for a semifinals ticket on a high note with a straight set win against Tacloban Fighting Warays, a team that beat them in the preliminary round.
The Perlas Spikers only won three of their seven outings in the prelims, enough for a seventh place finish out of the eight competing teams.
Good thing, according to Dela Cruz, the quarterfinals is a different story since the league adapted a back-to-zero format.
For Dela Cruz, the victory shows how thirsty the Perlas Spikers to turn the tides in their favor.
“Siguro kasi atat na rin ‘yung mga players namin na bumawi eh,” the coach said. “Umpisa ‘to ng quarter final round, magandang panalo para sa amin, magandang start para sa second round.”
The coach also gave his insights regarding the new format in the quarterfinals. He said there are positive and negative things with this system.
“Actually mayroong positive tsaka negative effects ‘yan, especially doon sa Top 2,” dela Cruz said. “Ang positive sa kanila ay nandoon na sila pero ang negative doon matagal silang mag-aantay.”
“And ‘yung susunod na dalawa, patuloy na naglalaro. Mas maganda ang exposure sa dalawang susunod na ‘yun,” he added.
Creamline and PayMaya clinched the first two spots in the tournament, giving them an outright semifinals berth for the Reinforced Conference.
The six remaining teams will battle it out once again to determine which teams will move forward the competition.
Dela Cruz said that this format is not that all bad, especially that players want more exposure and scouting of opponents.
“Maganda rin sa mga teams kasi maraming laro eh. ‘Yun naman ang gusto ng mga teams ‘yung makalaro ng marami sa tournament,” he said.
With the quarterfinals unfolding in a new format, Dela Cruz sees it as an opportunity for his team to avenge for their seemingly bad start.
“Medyo gumaganda kasi ang communication sa loob eh. Ang problema kasi namin nung mga nakaraan ay ‘yung jelling at communication, especially ‘yung isa naming import na hindi nagsasalita. Ngayon naiintindihan na namin na ganoon siya. Kinakausap na lang ng bawat isa,” Dela Cruz said.
Asked what his team’s chances to move to the semis, the coach said it’s hard to predict especially that other teams are already peaking at the right time.
“Actually kahit sinong team diyan, ‘yung chances malaki eh kasi import. Pwedeng i-dominate ng imports. Kahit sinong ilagay mong team diyan, malaki ang chances na makapasok sa semis,” he said.
What is important for him now is to collect the most number of wins so as to boost the confidence of his players.
“Well, talagang magiipon ka ng panalo. The more na nanalo ka, the more na tumataas ‘yung confidence ng team,” he said.
BanKo Perlas will face Pocari-Air Force next Saturday for their second game in the quarterfinals.