Generika kissed their title chances goodbye after absorbing a sorry straight set loss to RC Cola-Army in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix late Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
It was such a crushing loss.
Just few days ago, the Lifesavers posted a convincing victory over Cignal to cop the fifth spot in the playoffs. Observers believed that the victory could be the start of something good, especially since they avoided a head-on collision with mighty F2 Logistics while taking on an equally slumping RC Cola-Army squad in the sudden-death playoffs.
But the unthinkable happened.
The Lady Troopers showed up prepared with imports Hailie Ripley and Kierra Holst eager to prove their worth against the young Lifesavers, who waited for nine games before finally posting a morale-boosting victory.
RC Cola-Army played without its head coach, Kungfu Reyes, but it doesn’t matter as it came up with a strong start and even a stronger finish to knock down Generika and book a semifinal duel with Foton, the same team which clobbered it in the final four of the All-Filipino Conference.
With the curtains falling down on these Lifesavers, one player was heavily affected, couldn’t believe that her once promising journey would end this way.
The player was supposed to be the focal point of defense and a key contributor on offense. But with the way things boiled down, it appears that she failed on her mission of leading this developing team to greater heights.
She’s Darlene Ramdin.
‘Not our best’
Ramdin admitted that packing her bags for Manila is a leap of faith.
Although she played college ball at St. John’s University in New York with former Ginebra import Justin Brownlee serving as one of her team-mates, playing in Asia wasn’t a piece of cake for a Trinidad and Tobago native like her who traveled halfway around the world just to display her talent.
But the Lifesavers treated her like part of their family.
Led by head coach Francis Vicente, a well-known motivator and father figure, Generika conducted a team-building session and other activities to develop chemistry and harness the jelling among her and fellow import, Polina Liutikova of Ukraine, to make sure that they would be battle-ready.
Their leader inside the court is a grizzled veteran in Rubie de Leon while her teammates was a group of rising stars like Ria Meneses, Shaya Adorador, Gen Casugod, Yna Pagdanganan, skipper Wensh Tiu and Kathleen Arado, who was named Best Libero in an Asian youth tourney early this year.
But things didn’t pan out as expected.
Meneses and Cortez missed some key games as they juggled their time between their university and club teams while the rest of the Lifesavers had hard time competing against super teams like Petron, Foton and F2 Logistics.
In fact, shortly after a bad game against the Tornadoes, Vicente announced his resignation to somehow light a fire from under his young wards.
The team responded with an impressive performance the following game. But as the losses kept piling up, the morale of the Lifesavers was slowly crumbling. And it wasn’t the journey Ramdin expected.
But everything is not yet lost. Ramdin’s journey is not yet over.
They still have one game left, one more chance to salvage their shattered pride and show that they are better than coming up with a last-place finish.
And that game would be against the HD Spikers, the same team that they clobbered in straight sets last week.
Generika is beaming with potential.
Meneses, Cortez and Adorador are two of the finest young talents in the league while Ramdin is among the league leaders in blocks. In fact, she was the lone bright spot on defense against the Lady Troopers as five of her nine points came from the defensive end.
That’s why winning over the depleted HD Spikers is not impossible. And salvaging some measure of pride is very doable.
A picture of determination flashed through Ramdin’s face. She would be ready. She would do everything to win their final game, to grab their final chance to prove their worth.
After all, she didn’t travel halfway around the world just to end her journey with a sorrowful setback.