Cocolife seeks golden feat

Saturday, 09 Dec 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

It was just a quarterfinal conquest, but Cocolife emerged from its match against Cignal as if it already won the title.

Everybody was screaming at the dugout.

The mood was festive.

And head coach Kungfu Reyes quickly bared the reason behind that massive celebration.

“The win was a major achievement for our team. This is more than just a victory; this is a golden achievement.”

True enough, there’s a reason why the Asset Managers were in jubilation.

Cocolife barged into the league as a young team built around the friendship between players from Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

Former Ateneo star Denden Lazaro and former La Salle skipper Michele Gumabao served as cornerstones in the squad’s brazen bid to finally unify the biggest rivals in local collegiate sports.

In their first plunge into action in the Invitational Conference, the promises were there.

Obet Javier, who was fresh from a triumphant finish for Arellano University in the NCAA, served as head coach together with the core of the Lady Chiefs.

They finished seventh – not bad for a rookie team still searching for its niche in the most prestigious club league in the country.

The following conference – All-Filipino – a major development happened.

The Asset Managers acquired the services of Reyes and ageless setter Tina Salak as bench tacticians together with seasoned middle blocker Joanne Bunag to infuse veteran leadership to the young squad.

Suddenly, the cub slowly evolved into a lion.

The Asset Managers bombed out of the semifinals, but they dominated the classification to come up with a fifth-place finish.

They didn’t rest there.

They did their homework in the off-season and sent Reyes and Lazaro to the national team that had a 17-day training in Japan in preparation for the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Then, they flew to Vietnam to compete in a pocket tournament, not to win, but to develop their chemistry with other new additions like Jane Gonzales, Mary Jean Balse and Nerissa Bautista.

They also hired a pair of explosive imports in Tai Manu-Olevao and Taylor Milton while Salak stepped out of retirement to make sure that they will be able to put up a fighting team in the Grand Prix.

Few months later, their sacrifices bore fruits.

The Asset Managers finished the eliminations at fifth place with a 3-5 win-loss card, but pulled off a shocker when they crushed favored Cignal in the quarterfinals.

The HD Spikers played without Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga while Janine Marciano fell prey to knee injury later in the game, but it hardly mattered as the Asset Managers displayed flawless executions and airtight defense en route to victory.

“We’re happy because we broke something again.”

“In our first conference, we finished seventh, then fifth. Now, we are already assured of finishing fourth. That’s why we’re so happy with this win. We’re looking forward to a good performance against F2 Logistics in the semis.”

No easy foe

Reyes, the genius behind RC Cola-Army’s historic win over the junior national team of Thailand in the Invitational Conference last year, said they have to be wary of the Cargo Movers.

After winning all but one game in the eliminations, the Cargo Movers are coming oozing with confidence, making them a dangerous foe to deal with.

Aby Marano, Kim Dy, Majoy Baron, Kim Fajardo, Dawn Macandili and imports Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela and Kennedy Bryan are playing beautiful music together and it seems that nothing can stop them from bagging the crown.

Reyes said they would throw everything at the Cargo Movers to pull off an earthshaking upset.

“Nobody has an advantage. This is already the semifinals; we’re all equal.“

“It’s no longer a question of talent or volleyball ability. It’s now a question of who wants it more. We are hungry. And we’re eager to come up with a very good performance on Saturday.”

Reyes added that it has been a roller-coaster ride for them this season.

But when the final buzzer sounded on Saturday, they will make sure to end up on top.

And if that happens, these dazzling Asset Managers will have another golden feat to be proud of.