Yes, volleyball is finally alive, the women’s side that is with the emergence of the Premier Volleyball League as the sole women’s tournament following the hibernation of the Pilipinas Super Liga.
Fact is, the ongoing bubble competition in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte is already in the homestretch with Creamline, led by Alyssa Valdez nailing the first finals’ slot after beating PetroGazz in their best-of-three semifinals series.
Chery Tiggo, meanwhile, proved a lot tougher and steadier than Choco Mucho, to forge a title clash with fancied Creamline.
I have to admit that I am more interested in the Chery Tiggo- Choco Mucho matchup simply because two years ago, before the pandemic struck, I did team-building sessions for Chery Tiggo, still Foton at the time, and brought the team to Mt. Banahaw for an adventure team-bonding, described by Dindin Santiago Manabat as the best team-building she had experienced.
So do not blame me if I have a personal interest in the team as I have known the players then, though for this year, I think a little over half only of the team remained.
I even had Dindin as a guest in our Sports World and Beyond (SWAB) vlog last January. When Jaja came back from Japan, I was among the first to be in communication with her as she confirmed her availability for the South East Asian Games, but I do not know yet what will happen with the deferment of the competition to 2022.
On the other side, I know Ponggay Gaston, she being the youngest daughter of my best man in my wedding 39 years ago, Fritz Gaston, a heady defensive and point guard in the PBA in the early 1980s, something that the younger volleyball fans presently would not know.
The possibility of the Santiago sisters facing another sisters’ tandem could have happened, but unfortunately, Ponggay’s older sister Therese or Babang has taken another route in life after losing her passion for the game, though she did play in one conference with the Cocogen Team in the PSL.
I also had a good vlog session with Ponggay and Babang, together with my kumpare Fritz at their house in Paranaque as Fritz and I maintained our friendship through the years.
So I called him after Game 2 to ask him, among others, if seeing Ponggay playing on the court as a professional player brings back memories of his own past as a PBA player.
And the practical guy that he is, Fritz said no and that whenever he has the opportunity to watch her daughters playing pre-college days up to now, he looks at the game from a coach’s point of view. After all, he has a UAAP title under his belt when he coached his alma mater Ateneo, starring Danny Francisco.
After that, he also handled the women’s national team in the SEABA and SEA Games, followed by a stint with the Games and Amusement Board as a Commissioner.
Of course, he would like Choco Mucho to go all the way to the finals though he admits Chery Tiggo is a hard nut to crack with seniority and experience on their side, while her daughter’s team is anchored on Ateneo’s champion team prior to the pandemic.
But now that the championship cast is decided, I will definitely follow the series on live Facebook streaming.