Nxled brimming with confidence to go for improbable semis berth
Nxled is easily standing out as the best among the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) newcomers, with the Chameleons now working on a streak of the winning kind.
“It was quiet in the first set. Instead of being worried, I stepped up thinking, ‘if there isn’t anyone making noise, I’ll just start,’ so I can influence the team in a good way,” Krich Macaslang said after firing up the Chameleons in sweeping Galeries Tower, 25-22, 25-18, 25-17, in the All-Filipino Conference eliminations Thursday at FilOil EcoOil Centre.
The Chameleons chalked up its first winning streak and stayed mathematically in the hunt for a semifinal berth after rising to 3-5, but it wasn’t after encountering rough sailing in the first two sets only for Macaslang to take the lead.
Galeries slumped to its seventh straight loss after just one hour and 26 minutes and it will spend the rest of the elimination round trying to learn the ropes of professional play.
Meanwhile, Cignal is nearing the tail end of its elimination round schedule riding a triumphant run—but it doesn’t mean that the HD Spikers are going to take it easy.
Not while a young and powerful Chery Tiggo squad still standing on their way.
“Hopefully we don’t get satisfied with what we have (a five-game win streak), because we know what lies ahead of us,” Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos told reporters in Filipino after nipping F2 Logistics, 25-23, 22-25, 26-24, 26-24, later. “We still have three games left but we will continue to work for it.”
Cignal improved to 6-2 to take over fourth spot. The HD Spikers displayed their character to outlast the Cargo Movers, who were still licking their wounds from a Creamline sweep and dropped to 4-4.
“I thought to myself that it is okay if I don’t have points and I don’t get the ball, at least I gave something to the team and the result was good because we won,” Macaslang added after finishing with 11 points made up of eight attacks, a block and two aces.
The third set was a different story as the Chameleons, who were coming off a convincing four-set win against sister team Akari, led all the way.
“Our purpose is (to) improve more, but they tried to just focus on winning which is why the players were moving tight,” was coach Taka Minowa’s explanation of the Chameleon’s quiet start. “Also, they didn’t have communication (on the floor), but in the third set, it was very good.”
Winning consecutive games for the first time in the history of the franchise has obviously helped erase the bitter taste of a previous five-game losing streak while giving the Chameleons some fear factor to talk of.
“[We need to] maintain our hunger for wins, especially since we are a new team,” Macaslang, a middle blocker, went on. “We wanna prove that not every new team is scared.
“We know that we can give a good fight and that every team in the PVL now can compete. We were strong [today].”
Nxled drew 13 points from Jho Maraguinot, who had 11 kills, and 10 from Lycha Ebon.
Real test awaits
That confidence will be tested to the hilt as the Chameleons battle powerhouse defending champion Creamline next.
“Knowing Creamline is a good team, facing them would be a challenge,” Macaslang said. “It’s not that we just want to win, but we want something deeper. Who wouldn’t want to beat a good team, right?”
For the Chameleons to play past the eliminations, they would need to sweep their last three games. The Cool Smashers will be their biggest test in that stretch that starts on Nov. 23, before they face the Cignal HD Spikers two days later. They close out against Farm Fresh on Dec. 2.