National U Bulldogs team manager Dennis Junjun E. Abcede Jr. also sits as team manager of the all Bulldogs-crewed Mega Builders, currently still unbeaten in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference along with Cignal TV. With him in photo are (from left) James Martin Natividad and Kim Harold Dayandante. (Photo by Nante Azores)
Many are wondering why it is Sta. Elena Construction that is sponsoring the National University Bulldogs’ participation as Mega Builders in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference, and not the construction arm of the SM conglomerate which owns NU.
“There is a connection,” explains NU and Mega Builders team manager Junjun Abcede of D.A. Abcede & Associates. “Sta. Elena Const. happens to be a major partner of the SM construction group. And I have been team manager of the NU volleyball squads for years now owing to my position as SM construction consultant.”
When word was floated that the NU Bulldogs, UAAP back-to-back champions and runners-up in the last three seasons, wanted to take part in the PVL Open Conference, Sta. Elena, according to Abcede, volunteered to sponsor the team preparing for an all-out title assault in the upcoming UAAP.
The Bulldogs, mentored by coach Ariel dela Cruz in the PVL, have been very effusive in their gratitude to their PVL sponsor.
“Thanks to Sta. Elena, we’ve been learning more and more from our exposure in the PVL,” said open spiker James Natividad, a discovery from Pangasinan, in Filipino. “Going up against much tougher opponents is a perfect way to prepare for the next UAAP season. Sta. Elena is making it happen for us.”
Except for national player Bryan Bagunas, Fauzi Ismail and Kim Malabunga, this is the first time that the rest of the Mega Builders are appearing in a commercial volleyball league.
Setter Kim Dayadante of Las Pinas City said he had had a restful sleep on the eve of the opening July 1 of the PVL, another groundbreaking event organized by Sports Vision with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball.
“Only when I woke up early the next day did it sink in that most of my teammates and I were to play in a commercial league for the first time hours from now. I felt a mix feeling of excitement and a little fear. I worried some over my setting.”
Dayandante’s fears were unfounded, though. Since winning their first game against fellow newcomer Gamboa Mix Coffee in three sets, 25-19, 25-10, 28-26, the good-looking NU setter has been playing like a pro, a far cry from his seeming tentativeness in previous tournaments.
With him intelligently distributing the balls, the Mega Builders were never more masterful than in their July 15 straight-sets domination of the Instituto Estetico Manila Phoenix Volley Masters, 25-14, 25-20, 25-19.
They moved like one cohesive unit, overpowering in their attacks (42-27), compelling in blocking (8-4), and solid as well in their floor defense.
The complete Mega Builders lineup: Bryan Bagunas, Kim Dayadante, John Vincent Ogoc, Krisvan Ponti, Banjo Mondero, Jahn Paulo Ancheta, Jann Mariano Sumagui, James Natividad, Fauzi Ismail, Francis Philipp Aura, Berhashidin Daymil, Ricky Marcos, Kim Malabunga, and Madzlan Gampong.
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