MANILA — BanKo Perlas sprung a surprise on the PetroGazz Angels in Game 1 of their semis series in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference, as they unveiled a new import on Wednesday.
The Pearl Spikers replaced Yasemin Yildirim with Jeane Horton just in time for their semi-final series; the American import arrived just on Monday.
Horton, who had previously played for Cignal in the Philippine Superliga, was still clearly groping for form. She labored through an 11-point performance and committed quite a few attack errors.
PetroGazz would take a 25-19, 25-15, 21-25, 25-12 triumph to close in on a Finals berth.
It helped that the Angels were not entirely unfamiliar with her.
“Kanina noong na-interview ako sa courtside, that's the time na namin nalaman na nagpalit sila ng import,” said PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog, who admitted that he had heard about the import change but could not confirm it until before the game.
“Sabi namin, sino ba siya? Sino ba 'yun? Noong nalaman namin si Horton, at least kilala. Kasi ako coming from the other league, nakalaban namin 'yun,” he explained.
Laniog was thus able to share a few scouting tips with his team while they warmed up.
“Binibigyan namin sila ng information about sa player na 'yun para at least before makaharap sa court, ready agad yung mga players,” he said.
Also familiar with Horton is PetroGazz captain Janisa Johnson, who recalls playing against the American two years ago when they were both imports in France.
“The only time we get to see how she does is in the match, and of course we had to adjust, but sometimes it's too late. But now we know her tendencies so we're gonna prepare better for it,” said Johnson, who had 24 points in another strong performance.
The Angels were able to limit Horton in Game 1 of their best-of-3 semis series, but with two days to go before Game 2 they know that the American import can be much-improved by then.
Laniog thus wants his players to expect only the best from the Pearl Spikers and their new reinforcement.
“Siguro better na mag-expect kami doon sa talagang mas maganda na ilalaro ng BanKo. For them, do or die, i-expect namin na magb-bounce back yan,” said Laniog.
“Especially yung import nila, since first game niya ngayon, makaka-adjust siya,” he added.