CAGAYAN DE ORO – Defenders Gerflor may have remained winless in eight games after being crushed by the Akari Chargers, but coach Sammy Acaylar has finally gained recognition in his hometown.
Taking shots for the volleyball team in the City of Golden Friendship is no longer a novelty for Acaylar as this is the place where he grew up before becoming one of the brightest minds in Philippine volleyball. But only a few recognize him as a native coach.
On Saturday, Acaylar earned the long-awaited recognition from the CDO despite an 18-25, 15-25, 19-25 loss to Akari in the 2023 All-Filipino Premier Volleyball League (PVL) 2nd Conference at the Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center
“I didn’t even think they would pay attention to me. I’ve been waiting for this for how many years. Because they gave it to me in Manila, they didn’t give it to me in Cagayan de Oro City. But I am grateful to the mayor because he gave me what I should have received,” Acaylar told reporters after receiving the plaque from Mayor Rolando Uy along with homegrown player Erika Raagas.
(I didn’t expect to receive such confirmation, because I had been waiting for it for so many years. I received it [acknowledgment in Manila] but not in Cagayan de Oro city [which is my hometown]. I am grateful to our mayor because he gave me what I deserved.)
Acaylar, a 13-time NCAA men’s volleyball champion coach at the University of Perpetual Help, truly wanted to give back to his hometown through his coaching skills and was proud to play in front of his fellow Cagayanons, who welcomed the PVL with an electric atmosphere.
“It’s a long story. It’s been my ambition for a long time to be able to contribute and help here in Cagayan de Oro City because that’s where I’m from. I’m very happy because I’m back and I even played here in the PVL. I’m very proud,” he added.
[It’s a long story. It has been my ambition to contribute and help Cagayan De Oro, where I grew up. I’m so happy because through PVL I was able to come back and coach here. I am so proud.)
The Defenders coach, who was witnessed by his siblings among the ecstatic 9,862 fans, marveled at how the province showed their love for Philippine volleyball, hoping to come back again next season.
“I’m happy because this is one of the cities, which really patronizes volleyball. I hope next time I will come back here with a very strong team so they can see how I really coach,” he said in Filipino.
Acaylar will have to wait until Christmas before staying in his hometown as he and his wards are flying back to Manila on Sunday evening to continue their campaign amid their ongoing internal financial problems with the team management, which has only given them a partial payment of their salaries.
Despite the team’s current situation, the veteran coach said his team will continue to fight in their last three games, hoping to get a win.
“When we enter the court, we have to set aside our problems first. We have to solve the problem by playing a good game in our remaining games because it will give them a lot of opportunities if they play well. We may have lost again but they have been reacting well [inside the court]Acaylar said.