PLDT coach Rald Ricafort lauds Petro Gazz culture, vows strong finish for High Speed Hitters
MANILA, Philippines — PLDT coach Rald Ricafort credited the culture and system of his former team Petro Gazz for its success in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference after the Angels ousted his current squad, the High Speed Hitters, in the semifinals.
Ricafort, who transferred to PLDT a month after leading Petro Gazz to its second Reinforced title, was gracious in defeat to his former club, encouraging the High Speed Hitters to look at the bright side.
“Credits to Petro Gazz’s system and culture. They built it since most of their players have been together for the past two years,” said the PLDT coach in Filipino after their 17-25, 23-25, 15-25 loss on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena. “I told my team at least we have a bright future ahead because we’re just getting started. It’s my first conference with them and we were able to push a lot of teams, even this series, we forced a Game 3.”
“It’s not for us but we will keep pushing in the battle for third,” he added.
Ricafort admitted the Angels’ service made it hard for the High Speed Hitters to execute their game plan.
“In our game earlier, we had a hard time passing and doing our set plays because of Petro Gazz’s service. We have to avoid getting rattled because it’s hard for us to pass and it will be easier for our opponent to defend our attacks,” he said.
The new PLDT coach is also putting a premium on the health of his players as Mean Mendrez sprained her ankle early in the third set but still returned in the latter part of the frame.
Ricafort said Mendrez struggled to walk after the game and is doubtful in their bronze series against F2 Logistics.
“Her ankle is swollen. She suffered a sprain. She can barely walk after the game. We’ll see tomorrow,” he said. “We have to maintain their health because the schedule is so tight, no time to rest.”
Ricafort said his wards, composed of Mika Reyes, Kath Arado, Rhea Dimaculangan, Dell Palomata, and Jovy Prado, are still heartbroken after missing a chance to make their first-ever semifinals.
But expect the High Speed Hitters to finish what they started when they face the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the best-of-three battle for third on Sunday, 4 p.m., at MOA Arena.
“Of course, it’s hard for them to be optimistic because we just lost. But they know that our realistic goal was to go to the semis and we made it. Although they felt regretful, we told them to finish the job properly in our remaining games,” Ricafort said.
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) March 24, 2023