Achieving a silver medal finish in the 2019 Philippine University Games (Unigames) last year, the DLSU Green Spikers hope to continue their win from the off-season competition and secure at least a Final Four slot in the UAAP Season 82 men’s volleyball tournament to put an end to a medal drought the team has suffered for over a decade.
Considering the revamp of the team’s coaching staff and the rookie-laden lineup in Season 81, the new system of the Green Spikers gave them a sixth-place finish, finishing with a 5-9 win-loss record. After his first year in shaping the new Green Spikers, head coach Arnold Laniog shares his concerns and expectations for the team ahead of their UAAP season.
Last October, at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, the Green Spikers participated in the Unigames, finishing as the first runners up—a huge improvement compared to their 5-9 win-loss record in the previous edition of the Unigames. Despite the redemption arc, Laniog believes that there is still room for growth for his squad. “Mga weaknesses namin sa tournament na yun na-identify namin na after that, ‘yun ‘yung tinutukan namin,” he expresses.
(We identified our weaknesses in the tournament and after that, we focused on improving on them.)
On a positive note, Laniog shares that he saw the capabilities of each player during the tournament, adding that he was pleased with the maturity they displayed in their matches, “Marami na tayong mapapagpilian na pwedeng isabak sa loob [ng court] dahil medyo malalim na yung bench.”
(We have a lot of players to choose from that could contribute inside the court because we kind of have a deep bench.)
In any sport, conditioning allows athletes to prepare themselves ahead of a match and reduces the chance of having injuries. Laniog’s biggest concern this season was their coordination and physical condition, “As much as possible, [we want to have] less injuries and kung kaya lahat to play 100 percent.”
(As much as possible, we want to have less injuries and for everyone to give their 100 percent when they play.)
Outlook and expectations
The departure of their former team captain Cris Dumago left a huge gap to fill for the Taft-based squad. Laniog admits that the opposite hitter was the team’s go-to player during crucial moments of the game. Fortunately, there are two rookies, who were part of the national team’s youth program, that Laniog could count on to fill in Dumago’s position this season. “Kahit rookie sila sa UAAP, I think makikita mo rin sila na parang beterano na rin sa loob ng court,” the coach discusses.
(Even though they are rookies in the UAAP, I think you will see that they play like veterans on the court.)
The role of the captain is to lead and assist their players in bringing out their full potential, which is what Laniog expects from team captain Wayne Marco. He believes that gaining the trust of the team both on and off the court would develop a connection among the players that will allow them to play together more effectively. “Magandang paraan ‘yun para ma-enganyo nila ‘yung mga rookie and sophomore players na talagang mag-push pa talaga,” he shares.
(It is a good way to engage both the rookie and sophomore players to really push for more.)
Over the years, the Green Spikers had to go through a different set of coaches in hopes of reaching the Final Four. Laniog was named as the new head coach of the Taft-based squad in Season 81, with only two months to prepare for the UAAP tournament.
Despite not obtaining favorable results last season, Laniog and the team have been exerting more effort in their training in their quest to turn the tide. Setting realistic goals for the Green-and-White, he affirms, “This time, nakita lang talaga namin yung potential [of the team] sa mga minor leagues. No expectations, but we’re working hard to get the team again in the Final Four.”
(This time, we really saw the potential of the team in the minor leagues. No expectations, but we’re working hard to get the team again in the Final Four.)
Disclaimer: The LaSallian published the above article for its February print issue, released February 11, under the impression that the UAAP Season 82 tournament would push through as scheduled. As of February 12, the UAAP’s Board of Trustees and Board of Managing Directors have postponed matches starting February 15 in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.