Rising Star: Former Blue Eagle Gandler carves out her niche among Cignal’s top guns
Vanie Gandler comfortable sitting opposite veteran Ces Molina during the television interview, echoing confidently her veteran teammate’s assertions that Cignal is looking for brighter days in future conferences.
She was just as comfortable donning the mantle as top gun for the HD Spikers on the court.
“I am very happy because I know how tired we are, I know how much work we’ve put in,” Gandler said on Saturday. “We sacrificed so much and today I really felt the fight from each player, each coach up to the management, so very thankful.”
She put up a lot of fight too, finishing with 22 points in Cignal’s 18-25, 25-21, 25-22, 26-24 victory over Chery Tiggo at Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the HD Spikers sweeping the best-of-three battle for bronze against the Crossovers.
“We won stop until we get the gold,” Gandler said after her efforts helped Cignal to its fourth bronze medal—the most by any franchise.
Gandler’s rise as one of Cignal’s sharpest weapons comes at a time when the team is dealing with the absence of star Rachel Daquis, who is currently pursuing career opportunities abroad.
And the former Ateneo has given the team a dose of optimism in just her second conference with the HD Spikers.
Hungry for more
“Hopefully, this (medal) shines even more in the following conferences,” said coach Shaq Delos Santos, whose wards came within a knockout match of a Finals appearance.
“I am also very happy because this became a personal growth … and my teammates also stepped up, no matter who entered the court,” Molina said.
“You saw that [every HD Spiker] contributed and I know that everyone in the team is happy and hopefully in the next conferences we deliver a much better fight,” the team captain added.
The HD Spikers third podium spot in the Open and Invitational Conferences in 2022 before a runnerup finish in the Reinforced Conference in the same year.
Earlier this year, Cignal also finished third in the Invitational Conference.
And now, Cignal is hungry for more success.
“Our goal is always to be in the Finals. [W]e always fall short but as you can see, we, the coaches and the players, are not stopping … again we have no other goals until now, even if we reached a podium finish, but to reach the Finals,” Molina said.
“For me, we need to be more consistent every game, but of course it’ll only happen if we improve our practices, not only in the skills that we have, but we can’t stop with what we only have, we need to discover how to improve it and how to grow as an individual and as a team,” Delos Santos said.