Jau Umandal takes charge for unbeaten Cignal

Jau Umandal Cignal Spikers' Turf

Cignal’s Jau Umandal during Spikers’ Turf. SPIKERS’ TURF PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Fatigue aside, Jau Umandal was again a man on a mission as he steered Cignal to its second straight five-set victory in the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference.

It took everything and more for Cignal to outlast star-studded newcomer Criss Cross in five grueling sets through the unassailable scoring exploits of newly minted Taiwanese pro league champion Bryan Bagunas.

But as Bagunas flew back to Taiwan to fulfill prior commitments with WinStreak, Umandal took flight just three days later and proved there’s room in the team for more than one hard-hitting hotshot, extending the HD Spikers’ unbeaten run to six.

READ: Spikers’ Turf: Jau Umandal powers Cignal into semifinals

The 2023 Open Conference MVP fired a conference-best 36 points on 32 attacks, three blocks, and one ace paired with ten excellent receptions and six digs in a late 21-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-19, 15-7 escape over D’Navigators.

Umandal’s masterful charge which saw the defending champions book their semis ticket earned him a unanimous Spikers’ Turf Player of the Week citation for the period of April 17 to 21.

“‘Di ko expected na aabot ako sa ganito kataas. Usually naman, ‘di kami nanalo nang dahil lang sa akin (kundi) dahil sa buong team. So parang ‘di ko siya inisip na kailangan marami akong i-puntos. Gusto ko lang talaga makatulong,” Umandal said.

“Nagpapasalamat pa rin ako na na-achieve ko ‘yung ganiyang achievement kahit papaano.” The Philippine national team mainstay uncontestedly bested Criss Cross’ Jude Garcia, Savouge’s John Diwa and VNS-Nasty’s Kenneth Culabat for the weekly nod given by print and online scribes covering the league organized by Sports Vision and streamed live at spikersturf.ph.

READ: Spikers’ Turf: Bagunas shows mettle to lead Cignal comeback

Following back-to-back five-set triumphs in a span of 72 hours, Umandal refused to be knocked over easily and made sure he’d have more than enough left in the tank when the call of duty arrived.

“Talagang pagod pa kami sa game namin against Criss Cross. Siguro, in-overcome namin ‘yung pagod na ’yun at lahat ng pressure na meron kami sa team. As in talagang kahit mentally prepared ka, kung ‘yung physical condition mo talagang pagod, sobrang hirap.

“Kaya para sa’kin, mas nanatili sa akin ‘yung pagiging beterano ko na kailangan ma-overcome ko ‘tong pagod na ‘to para hindi sayang ‘yung punta ko dito at hindi sayang yung pinaghirapan namin ng ilang araw,” he said.

“Ayaw ko ring magpatalo nang basta-basta lang.”

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Umandal and the HD Spikers will bat for their seventh straight victory as they duke it out with VNS-Nasty on April 24, Wednesday, at the Paco Arena.

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