MANILA, Philippines—National University-Sta. Elena may have ruled the 2022 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference after dethroning the top men’s volleyball club, Cignal. But team captain Joshua Retamar believes the best is yet to come for their young squad.
The league’s Best Setter said the young Nationals haven’t shown their full potential yet even after a masterful performance in a club league, where they only lost one game in the elimination round.
“I think the team is still at 60 percent because we still have a lot to learn, especially in service, and we still have a lot of lapses when it comes to blocking,” said Retamar in Filipino shortly after dethroning Cignal, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, in Game 2 of the finals on Saturday at Paco Arena.
“We still have months of preparation to reach our 100 percent potential.”
Retamar was NU’s glue guy the whole conference, while Conference MVP Nico Almendras also provided the firepower and leadership. But rookie Michaelo Buddin was a revelation in the Finals, averaging 22.0 points in their two-game sweep to emerge as the Finals MVP.
The Philippine men’s volleyball team setter also feels Buddin is just scratching the surface of his potential ahead of the return of UAAP men’s volleyball next year.
“Buddin is really strong but he can be even better as long as he will listen and open himself to learn all the things that our coaches will teach him. His career can go far because even he’s young he is already strong. He has potential to play international,” Retamar said.
The offseason work won’t stop for NU as head coach Dante Alinsunurin said they will join the V-League, Sports Vision’s collegiate league, starting this October, and the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League.
Alinsunurin was pleased that his college team did great in the return of Spikers’ Turf, despite coming off a long layoff and playing against seasoned club leagues.
“All of our hardships this pandemic has paid off,” said NU coach, whose wards also played in the Asean University Games in Thailand and in an invitational league in Malaysia. “In this league, we were able to gauge our team that we can also compete not only against college teams but also the club teams.”
“They just have to keep on learning the system and working hard in practice so it will be easier for us to execute during games,” he added.