PVL: Oliver Almadro relishes ‘unexpected’ Finals stint with Petro Gazz
MANILA, Philippines — Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro admitted he was tempering his expectations when he was tasked to call the shots for his new professional team in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference.
Despite losing their key players led by Myla Pablo after winning their second straight Reinforced Conference, the Angels brought Almadro, who took over last January, to his first-ever PVL Finals appearance.
“I thank the Lord for the strength. As they say, the Lord will move to put you in the right direction. So, I didn’t know, I’m not expecting to be in the finals right away. I really didn’t expect this,” said Almadro, who was holding back his tears after Petro Gazz booked a ticket to the Finals through a decisive 25-17, 25-23, 25-15 victory over PLDT in the semis rubber match on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Almadro gave all the credit to the Angels, led by MJ Phillips, Jonah Sabete, Grethcel Soltones, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Remy Palma, and Djanel Cheng, as they set a Finals rematch against defending champion Creamline for the fourth time.
“I really thank these girls because they trusted me right away. Being in the Finals right away, it’s a big blessing because everybody wants to be in this position. But, many teams will underestimate us,” said Almadro.
“We will just accept it and show it to the people that we are a team and, we are one to reach the destination so this is really a process and journey for us, so, we really thank the Petro Gazz family for trusting in us,” he added.
In his first PVL Finals appearance, Almadro will face a team he hasn’t beaten since joining the league with his first club Choco Mucho in 2019.
Petro Gazz is also eyeing its first All-Filipino title after failing in its first two tries against Creamline in 2019 and last season.
“I’m telling them, talent is not the problem. What I can instill in them is that character. They know that I’m passionate and intense. Sometimes they are the ones stopping, saying that they can. But I accept it because they are vocal. They’re involved, we are involved. When they say something, I accept, when I tell them something, they accept,” he said.
“The skills will always be there. The strength will always be there, the power will always be there but the character is what we need to add to the team and of course, they have to trust themselves and their teammates.”
Almadro and the Angels will face the Cool Smashers in Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.