MANILA, Philippines – Even before she helped Bali Pure hack out a thrilling five-set win over Pocari Sweat in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals, Jerrili Malabanan already had a whirlwind of a day.
The utility spiker from Far Eastern University (FEU) got into a minor car accident along EDSA before Game 2 of the finals, causing her to be late for the contest.
“We were going pretty slow, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Malabanan, who arrived just as her teammates were already warming up for their match-up against Pocari Sweat.
Malabanan was driving the car, with San Sebastian stalwarts Grethcel Soltones, Iris Oliveros, and Alyssa Eroa as her passengers when the accident happened. The Filipino-American player admitted that they were “freaking out,” but she told her teammates to go ahead while she took care of the issue.
“My tito has the car, and they’re fixing it,” she said. “They should have it settled by (Tuesday night).”
Given the situation, Bali Pure coach Roger Gorayeb opted not to risk putting Malabanan in the first six. Instead, he sent her as a reserve in the third set, and Malabanan went on to score 10 points in their 25-15, 26-24, 24-26, 24-26, 15-13 victory.
“Medyo magulo ang isip niya kanina, kaya ‘di ko nilagay sa first six,” said Gorayeb. “Dumating sila, 5:30 na. Kung ‘di nag-four sets ‘yung kabila kanina, malamang dumating ‘yun na nag-uumpisa na ‘yung laro.”
[She wasn’t thinking clearly earlier, so I didn’t put her in the first six. They arrived here at 5:30. If the Creamline-Power Smashers game did not go into four sets, they’d arrive with the game already starting.]
For Malabanan, who has been a crucial part of Bali Pure’s campaign in the tournament, all the stress that she endured throughout the day was worth it after the Water Defenders forced a deciding game in the Finals series.
“I think it was worth it. It was a crazy day — getting into that accident, and playing in that game,” she said.
She is hopeful that momentum is now firmly on Bali Pure’s side after the crucial victory, and they are upbeat heading into Thursday’s do-or-die Game 3.
“Like we said in the dugout, our mindset for the next game is win or win,” said Malabanan. “Just keep a positive mindset.”
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