The Tuguegarao pair of AJ Pareja and James Pecaña was one of the inspirational stories in the BVR on Tour bubble that concluded this weekend in Santa Ana, Cagayan.
Pareja and Pecaña bounced back in the second leg, finishing second to Creamline 1's Jude Garcia and Krung Arbasto in the highly-competitive men's division.
For Pareja, he and Pecaña were honored to represent Tuguegarao in the two-week bubble.
"We couldn't be more thankful for the trust that Tuguegarao gave us to represent. Me and Henry have been working since April of this year when we decided to pair up and it has been such an honor representing and bringing a medal for Tuguegarao," said Pareja.
Pareja and Pecaña couldn't get past the pool stage in the opening leg but they showed great improvement in the second leg, as well as tremendous poise in battling three three-set matches.
"Those 3-setter matches really made us look into our own strengths and weaknesses as a pair as well as reassess our mindset for each game. It made us realize more how to pace ourselves when to go all out or when to slow down which is still very much a work in progress for us," said Pareja, who is also a doctor.
Tuguegarao has learned a lot of lessons from its first leg experience, which included a tough loss to Negros Occidental Beach Volleyball Club.
Pareja and Pecaña were able to avenge their first leg defeat to Eljhay Ronquillo and Deanne Neil de Pedro in the second leg, which they believe was the turning point of their campaign.
"The first leg finish was more mental than physical in a way that we were so pressured to play a perfect game because we both wanted to prove something to the local beach volleyball scene," Pareja admitted.
"We let the pressure get the best of us to the point that we are both nitpicking each one's errors, making us work against each other instead of working together," he added. "The second leg we let go of that pressure to play perfectly and we became more open to each other's shortcomings in the game."
With Tuguegarao's runner-up finish, Pareja is confident that his partnership with Pecaña will flourish in the future domestic and international competitions.
The pair is one of the Philippines' representatives to the Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships on Nov 23-27 in Phuket, Thailand.
"We are very confident that with the program we are currently following, our world tour dreams are an attainable reality. This is just the beginning for the both of us and the rest of my Indios Beach Volleyball Crew," Pareja said, referring to their club where Pecaña is currently part of.