PVL: Choco Mucho looks to regroup after falling short of semis

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2022 03:33 PM

Choco Mucho missed the semifinals for the second straight conference. PVL Media.
Choco Mucho missed the semifinals for the second straight conference. PVL Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- Getting their key players healthy is among the priorities for Choco Mucho as the Flying Titans look to regroup after missing the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.

Needing to win in three or four sets against Cignal HD on Tuesday, Choco Mucho instead lost in four frames to fall out of contention for a semis berth. The HD Spikers recovered from a slow start to grab a 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 win. 

It was a tough pill to swallow for the Flying Titans, who had won the opening set and were still in the hunt in the third when injuries to Kat Tolentino and Desiree Cheng took the wind out of their sails.

"Siyempre, mabigat. Talaga, siyempre, talo eh. Kumbaga, sobrang bigat ng atmosphere sa loob ng dugout," Choco Mucho coach Edjet Mabbayad admitted.

"Makikita mo, talagang gusto nilang manalo during that game. Pero talagang nangyari ang mangyayari eh," he added.

Tolentino had to be helped off the court after an awkward landing following a dig, and had to get some treatment on her left knee. Cheng followed her on the sidelines later in the third set, with the former La Salle standout needing to have a splint put on her right pinky finger.

Tolentino would return in the fourth set but Cheng sat out the rest of the match. Mabbayad later said that Tolentino is "okay."

"Medyo ano lang yun siguro, wrong move. Sumakit lang, buti hindi naman malala," Mabbayad said of Tolentino, who has a well-documented history of knee injuries. "Hindi naman siya totally nag-twist para umabot sa kung ano mang injury na hindi natin inaasahan. Ngayon, she's okay."

Cheng, however, suffered an apparent tear of her tendon in her finger, according to the coach. 

"Si Des yung tendon parang medyo nag-tear. So kailangan mag-heal talaga 'yun," Mabbayad explained, noting that they will still ask their team doctor to determine the next steps for Cheng's recovery.

The Flying Titans finished the preliminary round with a 3-5 win-loss record; this is the second straight conference that they have missed the Final 4. It remains to be seen, however, what steps the club will take in order to finally make a breakthrough appearance on the PVL podium.

They have yet to discuss the status of Mabbayad, who is serving as head coach on an interim basis after taking over from Oliver Almadro late in the conference.

"Wala pa, wala pa naman kaming pinag-usapan. Siguro baka by tomorrow or sa ano. Sa ngayon, wala munang na-discuss," Mabbayad said after the game.