Rising to the top, PLDT braces itself for tough schedule ahead

Rising to the top, PLDT braces itself for tough schedule ahead

PLDT High Speed Hitters in the PVL All-Filipino Conference. —Marlo Cueto

PLDT can’t be too comfortable with how its campaign has been going in the current Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference.

Even after the High Speed Hitters stormed right off the Holy Week break with a strong 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 victory over Akari on Tuesday to match Creamline’s 6-1 (win-loss) standing atop the standings, the toughest stretch of the team’s journey is yet to come.

“We need to continue reminding the players that there are still tough games to come,” coach Rald Ricafort told the Inquirer in Filipino.

“Even if there is still a long way to go before those games, we need to keep prompting them of our execution and to improve the mental part of our game through practice. We will bank on that toward the latter part which will have the heavy teams,” he added.

The High Speed Hitters’ next assignment is hapless Strong Group, but after that, PLDT will see its semifinal hopes go through a tough three-game test: Giant slayer Chery Tiggo, consistent performer Cignal and powerhouse Creamline.

And the team knows exactly how things can unravel fast via a three-game schedule.

In the previous All-Filipino Conference, PLDT carved out a 5-1 start before losing three straight games that dropped the High Speed Hitters to the middle of the standings—a fall that could not be rescued even after capping their schedule with two straight wins.

‘Best lesson’

PLDT finished short of the Final Four at the fifth spot with a 7-4 standing.

“That will serve as our best lesson, we need to remind them of what happened in those games so they will already have a reference,” the champion coach said. “Our lapses are easy to pinpoint so we will base from that on how to attack similar instances and prevent what happened last time.”

For Ricafort, it’s not just the competition that he has to worry about. PLDT, in this conference, has been prone to complacency and inconsistency and has at times failed to keep its emotions in check—flaws that the High Speed Hitters have been working on during practices.

The High Speed Hitters still have a long way to go in terms of their execution and as of the moment, the young Ricafort gives his team’s preparedness a grade of six out of 10.

“We still have a lot of catching up to do. Not necessarily lapses on our part, but catching up on the playing level of the teams that we are about to play,” Ricafort said. “That’s Creamline, they have Tots Carlos; Cignal has excellent play; Chery is peaking during these times.”

PLDT has its share of weapons to match up against the league’s powerhouses. Majoy Baron led the team with 13 points while Savannah Davison added 11 in the victory over the Chargers.

More importantly, Ricafort believes that the High Speed Hitters have started to mature.

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“I can see, even during training alone, that they are becoming patient,” Ricafort said. “Even if things are getting frustrating, they are trying to shrug it off because the training level and environment is really good.” INQ

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