Bus ride worth it for Generika

Saturday, 03 Dec 2016
Nads Ong - @nadineisreal

Generika salvaged some measure of redemption when it coasted to a 25-10, 25-20, 27-25 victory over Cignal in its final match in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City.

It was a picture-perfect win for the Lifesavers.

Imports Darlene Ramdin and Polina Liutikova led the charge with 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Ria Meneses, Shaya Adorador and Wensh Tiu all submitted sterling numbers for the Lifesavers, who had to take a grueling 10-hour bus ride just to make it to the heart of Bicolandia.

The Lifesavers left Manila in the dead of the night on Thursday and arrived in Legazpi City Friday morning, giving them very little time to rest their weary bodies for the tough grind ahead.

On the other hand, three of their players – Angel Legacion, Tiu and Meneses – arrived on the day itself, or barely few hours before they take on the well-rested HD Spikers.

But whether they took the bus, ship or plane, it doesn’t matter as the Lifesavers still brandished such a great performance to frustrate the HD Spikers and avert a disastrous finish in this prestigious club tournament where the country’s best players are seeing action.

Generika assistant coach Mayie Prochina, a former National Team member, lauded the dedication of their players.

It’s all about pride, passion and dedication. The team may be tired from the 10-hour bus ride from Manila, but nobody complained. This is supposed to be a no-bearing match, but for us, it is very important because our pride is at stake. Even when I was with the National Team, we also took 10 or 12-hour bus ride just to compete for flag and country.

Feel-good finish

For a team that parades the league’s youngest lineup, finishing 5th out of six competitors is already an achievement.

A known motivator and good teacher, Generika coach Francis Vicente assembled the Lifesavers out of nothing, similar to what he did last year when he steered the rag-tag Philips Gold squad to a set shy of advancing to the Grand Prix finals.

He picked veteran setter Rubie de Leon as the ringleader and surrounded her with rising stars like Meneses, Adorador, Cortez, Kathleen Arado, Gen Casugod and Legacion.

But the result was far from ideal.

The Lifesavers suffered six consecutive setbacks, prompting Vicente to contemplate on stepping down. The Lifesavers, however, still hung on to finally win their first game over Cignal and finish the preliminaries at fifth place. They lost to RC Cola-Army in the playoffs to book a rematch with the HD Spikers in the battle for 5th place.

Vicente said for a young team like them, what they achieved is a feel-good finish.

Assembling a volleyball team doesn’t happen overnight. A coach should always be patient. You just don’t have to recruit or recruit great players; our main job is to mold them in becoming one.

Just the start

Vicente has a track record of molding talents. In fact, he turned Alyssa Valdez, Kim Fajardo, Dindin Manabat and Jaja Santiago into the country’s best players while making sure that their good moral character remains intact.

In the PSL, he assembled Philips Gold from scratch and turned it into one of the league’s elite teams to the point of nearly making it to the Grand Prix finals. But fate had a different script.

The Lady Slammers moved to the rival league under the banner of Pocari Sweat and quickly won back-to-back titles. Vicente said what they showed in the PSL was just a glimpse of their true potential.

We would never stop working. We’re going to evaluate them. It all depends on who will stay after the evaluation. If we’re going to need to look for new hires, we would do it. This is just the start. At least we’re not in the bottom of the standing. Next time, we’ll make sure to land in the Final Four.

Yes, it really doesn’t matter whether Generika took the bus, ship or plane.

What matters most is that these Lifesavers did their best to gain redemption despite the 10-hour bus ride with a lot of bumps and mishaps along the way.

After all, good things happen to those who are brave enough to take the long, winding road — even in the dead of the night.