It was just one game.
It was just one game to make an impact; one game to remind the league, the players, the fans who they really are.
Yet, Cignal delivered as it crushed the high-powered Cocolife squad in just three sets in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Tuesday at the Bacoor Sports Complex.
The battle didn’t wasn’t supposed to become a classic.
Even long-time observers strongly believe that it’s going to be a rout, a massacre, in favor of Cocolife.
They were all banking on the buildup that the Asset Managers launched in the off-season when they recruited a foreign coach in Moro Branislav of Serbia and paired him with another decorated mentor in Kungfu Reyes together with imports Taylor Milton and Sara Klisura, who owns the league’s scoring mark when she erupted for 41 points against the tough F2 Logistics defense last year.
But their biggest acquisition was former Cignal stalwart Royse Tubino.
And her mere presence on the other side of the floor feels like a knife twisted into the hearts of the HD Spikers.
Still, the HD Spikers had to move on.
And this game against Tubino and her new team will set the tone of their grinding championship journey ahead.
Head coach Edgar Barroga, the team manager who had to take the coaching cudgels following the departure of George Pascua, said winning over an elite team like the Asset Managers was like scaling a mountain.
Their best setter Chie Saet and scorer Paneng Mercado also packed their bags for other teams while Mylene Paat returned to her university team, sparking speculations that playing against the HD Spikers will just be a walk in the park for any competitive team.
But Barroga never stopped believing.
They also found a gem in import Sonja Milanovic and Jeane Horton, the American spiker who was cold-blooded in crushing the Asset Managers’ net defense before burying them with either a smile or a dance move.
Horton had 19 kills and five aces for 24 points while Milanovic emerged with 16 markers and perfectly manned the net together with Navarro to prevent Milton and Klisura from doing damage.
“I told the team that nobody believe in us, but ourselves. We never stopped believing. That’s the secret of this game.”
“We always have meetings during trainings where we discuss everything. Sometimes I scream at them. But I always make sure to clear things out and keep our lines open.”
When the buzzer sounded, the final score was 25-15, 28-26, 25-15, in favor of the HD Spikers.
The scores, however, were largely immaterial.
What was important was that the HD Spikers needed only one game – yes, one game – to turn those who doubted them into solid believers.