Gandler makes most of chance to start in Alas' Pilipinas win vs Iran

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Gandler makes most of chance to start in Alas' Pilipinas win vs Iran
Vanie Gandler in action for Alas Pilipinas.
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines – Alas Pilipinas’ Vanie Gandler was thankful for the opportunity to help her teammates as she was inserted into the starting lineup by head coach Jorge Souza De Brito in their penultimate pool play game against Iran at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

Gandler, who played sparingly in the first two games, proved to be a big contributor in place of teammate Eya Laure, who sat out the game after back-to-back starts earlier this week. In her first start of the competition, the Cignal HD Spiker scored nine points.

Helping Alas to its first sweep win of the tournament, and sealing their place in the semifinals with a 3-0 record, the former Ateneo standout said she was simply eager to play her role.

“I'm just really happy to be able to help the team, to be able to help Eya, 'cause it's a tournament where we play every day and they get tired too,” Gandler said. 

“So I know that our role as second-stringers is very important so that they get enough rest, so that everyone is strong, especially coming into the semis,” she added.

Gandler was joined by Cherry Nunag in the starting lineup, the latter replacing Thea Gagate who also got a breather against the Iranians.

After playing three games in just as many days, sharing the burden on playing time proved to be effective for De Brito, and for Gandler, it was just a thrill to see everybody stepping up, herself included, especially since it was a home crowd.

“I'm so proud of everyone and I'm so happy, not just for the team, the crowd really boosts our energy. It's my first time playing with the national team and it's really a different feeling seeing the Philippine flag everywhere, feeling the heart of everyone,” she said.

Former Ateneo teammate Faith Nisperos caught Gandler’s attention in particular as well, as they were able to share the court anew after their respective collegiate careers.

“I'm happy to be playing with Faith again on the court. Now we played in college, now in the national team, so it feels great, of course.” she said.

There’s a way to go for Gandler, Nisperos, and the rest of Alas Pilipinas, though, as they are set to play their final game in Pool A on Sunday against Chinese Taipei.

They then await the final seeding of teams to determine the matchups for the knockout semifinals beginning Tuesday. This is the first time Alas Pilipinas has qualified to the semis of the AVC Challenge Cup.

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