IN AN exhilarating twist of fate at the Palarong Pambansa 2023, the Davao City-led Region Athletic Association (Davraa) team staged a remarkable comeback, snatching the gold medal from their previous rivals, Soccsksargen, in the secondary boys sepak takraw regu championship match held at the Marikina High School Friday, August 4.
Despite a challenging setback in the pre-Palaro Mindanao Qualifying finals held in Tagum City, the Dabawenyos mounted a remarkable comeback, defeating Soccsksargen with a flawless 2-0 victory.
"Naserohan sad mi ato sa Tagum, wala gyud mi kadaug maski usa ka set (We were defeated in Tagum, we never won even one set )," Davao Eagles coach Ruel Yataza said in a phone interview with SunStar Davao.
He said the loss even challenged his players Stephen Dave Kilayco, Rhyan Dave Mangubat, Justine Keth Celerinos, Wein Karl Cajilig, and Omar Khalid Aming - all students from the Rizal Memorial Colleges - to work harder in their training. Kilayco also clinched the best setter title.
Yataza said, "Mas motivated sila, tuloy-tuloy ang training (They were even more motivated as they continue training)."
During the elimination round, the Davao squad outlasted Ilocos Region, 2-1, setting the stage for a semifinal clash with Central Visayas. The Dabawenyos maintained their winning streak by toppling Central Visayas on the same note, securing their spot in the gold medal match.
As the realization of another face-off with Soccsksargen dawned, Yataza delivered an encouraging pep talk, alleviating any undue pressure. "Gi-motivate ko lang sila na mag-enjoy sila sa dula. Kung unsa man gani gihimo nila sa training, i-execute lang gyud to. Wala man sila makuyawan nga mag-abot napud sila, mas naganahan pa sila kay gusto nila makabawi, karon natagaan gyud og chance (I just motivated them to enjoy the game. Whatever they did in training, just execute it. The prospect of facing each other again didn't faze them; it fueled their enthusiasm to recover their loss; now they were given that opportunity)," Yataza said.
He said months of preparation led the team to this moment, as they meticulously readied themselves for Palaro since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in June 2022, allowing in-person training.
Soccsksargen clinched the silver medal, while Central Visayas settled for bronze.
Meanwhile, the elementary boys regu doubles team from Mintal Elementary School salvaged a bronze for Davraa.