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by Andy Fiel
The BaliPure Purest Water Defenders has gone through a lot of changes the past five years but the occasional changes have surprisingly left the team undeterred.
With team manager Gil Cortez and returning head coach John Abella now at the helm, the upcoming PVL season could be the most challenging and gratifying compared to past seasons for the volleyball club.
Cortez projected an air of anticipation as he reiterated the philosophy of the management and what he expected from his team.
“With the players that we have now I think we are much better than last season. I think we will be a competitive team,” he said.
“Ang advantage sa amin ng mga makakalaban namin ay napakalakas nila. Ang napagusapan namin ng mga players e wag tayo magpasindak. Laban lang tayo kahit malalakas mga kalaban natin. Once na nagpasindak ka masisira ang laro mo. I have always believed in that,” he continued.
Cortez also stated that he expects the Purest Water Defenders to rise to the challenge – regardless of which team they will face.
“Kahit gaano karami ang mahuhusay sa kabilang mga teams na may pangalan dapat gugustuhin nila na magpakita ng tapang at skill dahil they have something to prove. Hopefully we will give a good fight. One game at a time. We will see and we will adjust,” the PBA’s first Rookie of the Year said.
With John Abella renewed as chief tactician the management showed their confidence in his capacity to integrate the different personalities into the team system, build on chemistry, and a chance for him and his staff to improve on the team’s finish in 2019.
Abella explained how he perceives coaching in the present situation and how he grounds his expectations within the framework of transforming the team.
“Mas gusto talaga natin ang face to face training but since the pandemic will not permit us to do that medyo kailangan natin mag-adjust. Lalo na ngayon puro physical conditioning lang ang magagawa mo. So doon kami tumututok. Maging kundisyon ang mga players before we actually have the go signal to do the face to face training para less ung mga injuries and mas maganda ung itatakbo ng training namin,” Abella stated.
Abella has his work cut out for him going into the PVL bubble. The field has expanded to accommodate several teams from the Philippine Super Liga (the last being PSL champion F2 Logistics) and it seems the road to the finals has become quite steep.
“Every team’s goal is to get to the championship. But ever since I started coaching naniniwala ako to take it one game at a time. Pag nakikita ko may progress ung mga players ko natutuwa ako talaga. With progress comes results,” Said the former UST standout.
“For now ang gusto ko makita, aside from players getting physically fit, is ung chemistry. Based sa group chats namin maganda naman ung samahan, medyo magaan. That is what we are trying to build up right now. Since karamihan puro bago yun ang major factor. Para pagpunta namin ng face to face (training) sobrang gaan na ng atmosphere.”
The Purest Water Defenders have had several changes to its players’ list almost every year since it participated in the PSL five years ago. The current iteration, albeit infused with a good mix of experience and youthful exuberance, has only three holdovers from the 2019 season.
“Ung team namin is a mix of veterans and newcomers. But our newcomers hindi naman bago sa larangan ng (volleyball). With regards sa veterans namin sanay na rin sila, and with this team I believe may pupuntahan,” Cortez explained.
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