PVL: Aaron Velez eager for redemption as he takes on dual role for Chery Tiggo
MANILA, Philippines — Aaron Velez will have to wear two hats this 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference as both the team manager and Chery Tiggo’s head coach.
Velez, the franchise’s head coach from 2018 until the Open Conference last year, was tasked to call the shots for the Crossovers again in an announcement made on Monday evening.
The returning coach, who steered Chery Tiggo to its first PVL championship in 2021 in the Ilocos Norte Bubble, cleared the air that Clarence ‘Aying’ Esteban is still part of their team as the management wanted a tactician solely focusing on their club this All-Filipino.
‘100 percent focus’
Esteban, who was tapped last July for the Invitationals and brought back the Crossovers to the semifinals in the Reinforced Conference, is also coaching the Mapua women’s volleyball program and is a part of KungFu Reyes’ coaching staff for the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses.
Both the NCAA and UAAP tournaments will also begin in February.
“The management felt and thought that our coach Clarence also has to focus on UAAP [and NCAA] because it’s really going to be a volleyball season. I’m not saying that coach Clarence won’t be able to balance and he also said that he can still coach despite having multiple teams. But the management also thinks that the team needs a coach, who will be 100 percent focused on the club,” said Velez in Filipino during a video conference with the reporters.
“He’s still with the team. Even the other coaches from UST are still with me. Everybody’s intact. It’s just more of a change of who’s going to be a catalyst this conference,” he added.
Velez admitted he is making several adjustments again as he was already getting used to his new job as team manager for the past two conferences.
“There’s a lot of adjustments for me because I’m still the acting team manager so I have two positions,” Velez. “It’s a big adjustment because we have different styles in terms of talking to the team that’s already a big difference since coach Aying is a funny coach.”
The biggest part of that is losing Dindin Santiago-Manabat, who joined Akari and left the responsibility of the leadership role and scoring to Reinforced Conference MVP Mylene Paat.
Aside from Manabat, Chery Tiggo was able to keep its core composed of the vastly-improved Cza Carandang, EJ Laure, Jasmine Nabor, Alina Bicar, Shaya Adorador, and Buding Duremdes as well as new acquisitions Pauline Gaston and Seth Rodriguez.
Having a dual role may be challenging, but Velez said he is “blessed” that his players are working on the same page with the coaches in their goal to regain the All-Filipino glory.
“The players are quick to respond since we’ve already established our language, being together for how many years,” he said. “I think we just have to continuously beef our communication skills, know how to submit to each other, and we have to be accountable in every role that we’re going to do and I think things will be smoother. For now, I think we’re still intact in terms of our direction.”
EAGER FOR REDEMPTION
Velez, a former College of Saint Benilde player, is grateful for the trust of the management for giving him a second chance to call the shots again despite an eighth-place finish in the 2022 Open Conference, coming off a championship run.
“I’m excited and at the same time nervous. But this is a chance for me to bounce back and redeem myself, using the learning experience I had in the [Open Conference] last year,” he said.
Velez is setting a modest goal to surpass their fourth-place finish in the Reinforced Conference.
“They did great last Reinforced Conference. I commend Coach Clarence and the entire team, coming off a fourth-place rank. I think they [management] are not going to expect less. We have to leave it all on the floor and try our best to make it to the Finals and get that championship again,” he said.
Chery Tiggo will be tested right away as it opens its campaign against Reinforced Conference runner-up Cignal on February 7 at Philsports Arena.
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