PVL: Choco Mucho gives coach Edjet Mabbayad a winning debut after tripping Army
MANILA, Philippines — Choco Mucho interim coach Edjet Mabbayad made a successful debut as the Flying Titans ended a two-game skid with a 26-24, 25-10, 25-17 over the also-ran United Auctioneers Inc.-Army in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A day after head coach Oliver Almadro stepped down from his post, the Flying Titans stayed focused with Odina Aliyeva and Kat Tolentino leading the way to keep their semifinal hopes alive with an improved 3-3 record.
Uzbek-Az3rbajian spiker Aliyeva poured 20 points off 17 attacks, two blocks, and an ace on top of 11 excellent receptions and six digs, as Tolentino provided 14 points off 11 spikes, two aces, and one block.
Despite the late notice, it was a winning debut for Mabbayad as the team announced Almadro’s departure hours before its match.
“It’s a big win for us to bring back the confidence of our players because the past few days were not good for our team,” said Mabbayad as they bounced back from a five-set loss to Akari, led by Prisilla Rivera’s 44-point explosion last week.
“I explained the situation to my players and set aside whatever happened to us. I reminded them to stay focused and if you want to win, you have to enjoy the game and execute well,” he added.
Des Cheng was also instrumental with eight points, including the set-clinching attack in the first set to complete a comeback from a 24-23 deficit.
Army had a chance to draw the first blood with a 24-23 lead off coach KungFu Reyes’ successful challenge awarding a block touch on Jeanette Villareal’s attack but Tolentino saved a point. Aliyeva gave Choco Mucho a 25-24 advantage before Cheng’s set-clinching hit, which set the pace to dominate the last two frames.
Denden Lazaro-Revilla, who missed the previous game, returned to action with nine excellent receptions. However, Bea De Leon didn’t play due to back spasms.
Choco Mucho will have a week-long break before facing unbeaten leader Creamline Thursday next week at Mall of Asia Arena.
Royse Tubino led Army with 13 points, while Laura Condotta had nine markers as they fell to a 0-6 record.