Creamline, Choco Mucho clash in marquee matchup as coaches face off for first time in PVL
MANILA, Philippines—Creamline guns to extend its unbeaten run to three and reassert its mastery over Choco Mucho even as Cool Smashers coach Sherwin Meneses and Flying Titans mentor Dante Alinsunurin go head-to-head for the first time in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
On Valentine’s day, the much-anticipated sibling rivalry match between the two Rebisco squads is expected to draw another jampacked crowd at 6:30 p.m.
The last time Creamline and Choco Mucho met drew 19,000 in gate attendance in the Reinforced Conference at Mall of Asia Arena last year.
A lot has changed since with Alinsunurin now at Choco Mucho’s helm as the Crossovers look to finally get one against the Cool Smashers—a team they haven’t beaten since joining the PVL in 2019.
Meneses, a two-time PVL champion coach, was part of Alinsunurin’s coaching staff when the Philippine men’s volleyball team claimed a historic silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Meneses is excited to take on his good friend for the first time on the PVL stage.
“We’re always working together. This is the first time in the PVL. But we already talked about it before. Trabaho lang, magandang laban yan (Just purely business and it’s going to be a good game),” said Meneses, whose wards dominated in their first two games even without injured star Alyssa Valdez.
Alinsunurin, who also worked as an assistant coach for Meneses at Generika-Ayala in the Philippine Superliga three years ago before the lockdown, shared the same sentiment.
“What’s important for us is our respective teams. We will keep our focus on the things that we can do during the game,” said Alinsunurin in Filipino.
Both coaches had faced off before in the Spikers’ Turf when Meneses’ Arellano played Alinsunurin’s National University.
Anticipating another ecstatic crowd, Alinsunurin feels he has to be more assertive with his instructions.
“I have to be more aggressive in giving them instructions during the game because for sure we won’t hear each other [on the court]. We hope to be consistent in everything we do, especially in service receive,” said Alinsunurin, whose team slid to 1-1 after suffering a straight-set loss to its former coach Oliver Almadro and Petro Gazz.
“We scouted their [Creamline] games so we could determine our advantages that we can use against them. What’s important for us is to prepare well and continue to adapt the system that we’re establishing on this team.”
Under the guidance of Alinsunurin, Kat Tolentino, Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag, Des Cheng, and setter Deanna Wong are raring to put an end to their seven-game losing streak to Creamline.
The Cool Smashers, however, will continue to miss the services of Valdez, who is still recovering from a knee injury.
Creamline, though, has remained a formidable side with Michele Gumabao stepping up and averaging 13.5 points per game. Team captain Jia De Guzman has also been able to bring out the best in Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, and Ced Domingo with her brilliant playmaking.
Meneses is wary of Choco Mucho’s size this time since Alinsunurin’s strength is running a tall team.
But Meneses added Creamline will bank on its familiarity.
“Choco Mucho is a tall team. Coach Dante really wants tall players and one of the strengths of his system is blocking. We hope to pull off good combinations against them,” Meneses said. “I think the team’s familiarity is our biggest advantage even without [Alyssa]. Our team has a good relationship and really familiar with each other inside the court.”
Meanwhile, Cignal and Akari—both winless at 0-2—shoot for a breakthrough win at 4 p.m.