MANILA, Philippines – Heading into their 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season match-up against General Santos-Burlington, the Bicol-LCC Stores Volcanoes were downcast.
The Volcanoes were coming off their worst outing of the season, having lost to lowly Rizal-Xentro Mall last Thursday.
Needing just another win to secure a spot in the playoffs, Bicol instead faltered against the Golden Coolers, absorbing a 79-77 loss. The result left their postseason aspirations hanging in the balance.
To show how disappointed he was in their performance, Volcanoes head coach Mon Kallos skipped their practice the next day.
"Sa totoo lang hindi ako gumawa ng gameplan today kasi hindi ako um-attend ng practice namin before the game. Sinabi ko sa kanila, masama ang loob ko na hindi naman tayo dapat natalo doon," he explained.
It worked as a wake-up call to his players, as Bicol won its next game by fending off a late rally from the Pamboy Raymundo-led General Santos, 65-63, at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga.
With the victory, the LCC Stores-backed squad pushed their standing to 16-14 in the South Division. More importantly, the Volcanoes have punched their ticket to the playoffs, leaving the last playoff spot for Cebu and Batangas to fight for.
"Kaya sobrang saya namin lahat na nakuha namin 'to sa Gen San. Hindi ko naman na sila dapat pagalitan kasi alam kong kaya nila e, pinrove nila na talagang magaling silang team, magaling na players," Kallos said.
"Tingin ko 'yun ang naging wake-up call nila besides, wala akong pre-game talk. Nagsalita lang ako 'yung nararamdaman ko towards doon sa game namin, 'yung last game namin," he added.
Upon seeing his players regain their "killer instinct," Kallos is now confident that the whole squad can sustain it in time for the postseason wars.
"Sabi ko sa kanila, grabe ang paniniwala ko at respeto ko sa galing ng team na 'to kaya sabi ko kahit sinong kalaban natin kaya nating talunin. Oo, tingin ko hanggang playoffs na 'to," he said.
In other games, Nueva Ecija played the upset role anew, nipping playoff-bound Makati-Super Crunch, 80-74, while Pampanga got another momentum-building victory at the expense of Bacolod-Master’s Sardine, 82-65.
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