Cignal retools, taps Pascua

Cignal HD Spikers launched a major recruiting coup when it tapped two-time champion mentor George Pascua as head coach when it competes in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) wars this year.

One of the country’s brightest young coaches, Pascua formally reached an agreement with the HD Spikers a day after Volleyverse reported that they are cutting their ties with long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar.

Pascua confirmed the development, saying that he is thrilled with the appointment and couldn’t wait to work with a powerhouse roster bannered by veterans Paneng Mercado, Cherry Vivas, Jheck Dionela, Mylene Paat and Janine Marciano with Michelle Laborte now serving as assistant coach.

I am deeply honored and very grateful for this opportunity given by Cignal management. I like the roster and quite familiar to some of the players. So rest assured that I would do my best to give Cignal its first PSL crown. Hard work should start as soon as possible.

History

Aside from serving as one of the pillars of the men’s national team in various international competitions, Pascua also made his mark as the mentor who made history by piloting Petron to a historic 13-0 sweep of the PSL All-Filipino Conference in 2015.

With a solid lineup of Aby Marano, Fille Cayetano, Dindin Manabat and Most Valuable Player Rachel Anne Daquis, the Tri-Activ Spikers were simply unstoppable as they dominated the tournament from start to finish.

Prior to that, the Tri-Activ Spikers won the PSL Grand Prix crown in 2014 with the tandem of Alaina Bergsma of the United States and Erica Adachi of Brazil serving as reinforcements.

But Petron lost its magic in the PSL Grand Prix of 2015 as the tandem of Adachi and fellow Brazilian Rupia Inck failed to carry the Tri-Activ Spikers to a title-finish. The Tri-Activ Spikers surrendered to an emerging Foton squad in a thrilling three-game finals duel.

Although Petron failed to advance to the finals in the PSL All-Filipino Conference last year, Pascua’s place in league history as the only coach who swept the entire tournament is already secured.

And that winning mentality is what Pascua is looking to bring to the HD Spikers.

I’m not promising, but I would do my best to turn Cignal into a powerhouse team.

Big challenge

Pascua admitted that transforming Cignal into a contender is a major challenge.

After marching to the finals in the first two conferences of the league, the HD Spikers fell outside the elite group dominated by Petron, Foton and, lately, F2 Logistics.

This year, Cignal failed to advance to the semifinals of the PSL All-Filipino Conference before finishing dead last in the PSL Grand Prix, no thanks to the season-ending injury suffered by Lynda Morales as well as the sour chemistry among local players.

Pascua, however, treats it as a challenge.

This is a new challenge for me. And I’m excited to start working.

Pascua and the HD Spikers would start training next week.

Indeed, a new era has arrived.