Coach Rald Ricafort gave his exhausted Petro Gazz crew the full day Friday, will have just the reserves doing light practice Saturday before everyone on the team goes back to the back-breaking grind the following day.
He knows his Angels would need to rest their lungs a little, for they have no intent of taking it easy Tuesday next week when they try to bundle out stubborn Cignal in Game 2 of the PVL Reinforced Conference’s best-of-three title series at PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
“We know how Cignal suddenly comes to life just by winning a set,” Ricafort, in his rookie season as PVL coach, told the Inquirer over the phone in Filipino. “So we will give it our all [and go for a sweep] because their [HD Spikers’] confidence can really go up and give us all sorts of problems.”
Ricafort said that they never expected to win Game 1 in straight sets and lauded his players for never easing on the pressure, especially in the third set.
“They really fought it out,” he said. “And Cignal, too. Credit to them because they never gave up.”
Petro Gazz will go into Game 2 naturally not tweaking anything as far as its game plan is concerned. Ricafort feels that he has the perfect formula which made import Lindsey Vander Weide, the four-time All-American in the US NCAA, even more prolific.
“Our adjustments happened in the playoffs, where we were able to free Lindsey for more scoring opportunities,” Ricafort bared. “She became even more efficient, unlike in the eliminations where she really struggled.”
Vander Weide topped a 34-point night by scoring the Angels’ final four points. Aiza Pontillas and Myla Pablo scored 10 points each in effective back-up roles.
Confidence is probably something that the HD Spikers would need to get in the four days of rest leading to the potential title-retaining game for the Angels.
Cignal had chances to win the second and third sets only to be bullied into submission by Vander Weide, who got those 34 points off “just a little over 50 attempts, an efficient rate,” according to Ricafort, as the Angels triumphed in an hour and 48 minutes.
A victory by Petro Gazz in the 5:30 p.m. game will allow them to successfully defend the title last contested before the pandemic.
It will also provide for a great storyline now needed after the most compelling at the start of the tournament—Creamline’s Grand Slam bid—was snuffed out in the semifinals.
“The players want it, that’s for sure,” Ricafort said. “And they are all willing to work hard for it.”