MANILA, Philippines -- Cignal HD head coach Dexter Clamor is counting on the collective experience and maturity of his players to boost their bid for the 2022 Spikers' Turf Open Conference championship.
The HD Spikers will be up against a youthful National University-Sta. Elena squad, composed of the core of the reigning UAAP champions. Game 1 of the best-of-3 series is set for Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at the Paco Arena.
Cignal HD and NU-Sta. Elena split their first two meetings in the conference. The HD Spikers swept their elimination round encounter, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22, but the Nationals came away with a 20-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10 triumph when they met in the semifinals just last week.
"'Yung NU talaga, promising team talaga sila eh. Matitibay 'yung bata, may international exposure," said Clamor after Cignal HD snatched the second and last semifinals spot by beating Navy on Tuesday night.
The coach noted that while the Nationals played in overseas tournaments, the HD Spikers made do with intrasquad scrimmages and practice sessions.
Their advantage, said Clamor, is that their roster is composed of more experienced, more mature players. While NU-Sta. Elena has a bevy of youthful players — some of whom already have experience with the national team — Cignal HD will rely on veterans such as Marck Espejo, Ysay Marasigan, and Rex Intal.
JP Bugaoan has been superb for Cignal HD as well, while Owen Suarez and Geuel Asia are alternating playmaking duties for the team.
"Siguro, it boils down to maturity. It boils down to maturity ng bawat isa. So, siguro, 'yun ang I think advantage namin," said Clamor. "Basta meron kang Marck Espejo at Ysay Marasigan na magli-lead sa team, 'yung maturity ng bawat isa, 'yun ang tingin kong No. 1 factor na advantage namin against NU."
Still, it's no assurance that Cignal HD will come out on top in the finals series. Clamor himself did not make any predictions or promises, only that he expects good matches.
"I think these finals is a very exciting game. Tinalo namin sila during elimination, binawian nila kami ng semi finals. So again, paghahandaan namin maigi ang Sta. Elena," he said.