FOTON Pilipinas absorbed a pair of sorry setbacks, but these did not dampen team spirit in its campaign in the 2016 Select Tuna Thailand Volleyball League at the Wi Sommai gymnasium in Sisaket Province, Thailand.
The Tornadoes fell prey to Bangkok Glass, 20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 18-25, on Thursday following a three-set meltdown to EPA Sisaket, 13-25, 10-25, 18-25, in their debut late Wednesday in this prestigious tourney that serves as warm up for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship set from Sept. 3 to 11 at the Alonte Sports Center in Binan, City.
Foton Pilipinas head coach Fabio Menta said the twin setbacks was highly expected as they have yet to find their rhythm and develop their chemistry, especially with the inclusion of imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer as well as guest players Jen Reyes of Petron, Aby Marano of F2 Logistics and Jovelyn Gonzaga of RC Cola-Army.
Gonzaga, however, didn’t make the trip as she failed to secure a travel permit from the Philippine Army, while prized middle blocker Jaja Santiago also stayed behind as she had to attend to some pressing academic matters at National University.
“I am very satisfied with the team fighting point by point with the Asian champion,” said Menta following their loss to Bangkok Glass, which was powered by American import Ashley Frazier and national team member Sutadta Chuewulim Somboonnit.
“They showed great personality on the court. We adjusted the block positions so we can be there in defense. All players performed according to game plan.”
Against Bangkok Glass, the reigning Asian champion, Stalzer and Usher provided the scoring spunk, while Maika Ortiz punched holes on the Thais’ defensive blanket from the middle as the Tornadoes coasted to a seven-point advantage in the second set.
But three questionable calls from the first referee doomed Foton Pilipinas’ poise, allowing the seasoned, more fluid Thais to crawl back and take the second set away.
“We were stronger than that and dominated the third set,” said Menta, who was tasked to lead Foton Pilipinas to a semifinal finish in the AVC tourney.
“All players have performed according to game plan. We were very happy.”
Menta added that he expects a major bounce back when they wrap up their preliminaries assignments against Rungsit University, a developmental team consists of college stars.
“Tomorrow is our day!”