There were no crowds cheering or jeering. No banners shown in every scoring opportunity. Cameras for television broadcast were absent as well.
Devoid of massive attention, the Petron Blaze Spikers and the Creamline Cool Smashers had a tune-up game three days before Palm Sunday. If not for social media updates, this showdown would start and end without a whimper.
Just as devotees prepare to remember Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection, this match revealed the same narrative.
For the Blaze Spikers, this meeting show their passion to improve even if they are yet to lose in the PSL Grand Prix 2019. It’s not enough that they train among themselves. Rather, they play the best to remain dominant.
As for the Cool Smashers, their take-aways from this encounter fuel their passion to defend their PVL Reinforced and Open Conference championships. They may have lost this game in four sets. But testing their resolve against a PSL powerhouse reveal what would it take for them to remain on top.
The Petron-Creamline training also gave death to the bickering on which team or league is better. Both sides have their staunch supporters and the debate litters comment sections online. Arguments took a ceasefire for this match. Perhaps, fans are just in awe that it actually happened. Two teams from rival entities competing and ultimately winning as one.
No wonder it resurrected the clamor of having one semi-professional volleyball league.
Why it needs to happen and why it might not
Having one league has its perks. First, the best players get to compete against each other, giving rise to more rivalries and increased interest among fans. Scheduling of breaks in preparation for international competitions are easier as well.
Third, a two-tier league can make every game count. Top teams in Division 2 can be promoted while the bottom squads in Division 1 are relegated. Regardless of opponent, players will keep on giving their best to avoid demotion.
While this fantasy sounds exciting, it may remain a myth for now. Both leagues are ran by sports management companies and discussions about which gets which during merger talks might end up nowhere. It’s also possible that teams will close shop if they transfer to the second tier. Players can also switch leagues to join the highest bidder.
Change can be unsettling. But would it help elevate Philippine volleyball? I believe so.
If only the solution to this can be found in an Easter egg hunt. But until the indifferences and disputes are ironed out, we will forever be stuck with what might have been. The tune-ups will eventually become repetitive until the points matter, television cameras broadcast the action, and crowds inject energy into the sport that they passionately love.