D Minus 2 – PHL vs GUM (a boring account of preparing for match day tuesday)Posted: June 10, 2012
Bacolod City, Philippines – We arrived yesterday in Bacolod City. The team arrived in two flights – the early morning and early afternoon flights from Manila. The bulk of the team arrived on the afternoon flight and was met by a band composed of drummers perched on the back of this truck.
Most of the staff took separate vans to the hotel while the team took a rented Ceres bus. The slow drive from the Bacolod International Airport in Silay meant that it took the team over an hour to finally get to the hotel. No rest for the weary, however, as the team quickly boarded the bus again for their first practice at the Panaad Stadium after checking in and organizing their equipment.
The pitch looks ready but Phil and James noted that the lights seemed a little too bright. This was more due to the positioning of these which were a little low thus blinding players in certain parts of the pitch. The organizers said that they would try to adjust the lights so that this would not be the case during match day. Otherwise, getting to high balls particularly for the goalkeepers might be a little challenging.
A couple of notable items during practice – the team sang Happy Birthday for Team Manager Dan Palami. There was an attempt to pour a cooler full of water and ice on Dan but he was able to avoid it – barely.
After practice, the team headed back for a quick shower and change before heading off for dinner. Dinner was hosted by Philippine Olympic Committee Chairman and FIFA TV and Media Committee Member Monico Puentevella. A long day ended just before midnight when the team arrived back at the hotel.
Today began with a team breakfast. Around 11 am, we all went to the Dugout Bar and Restaurant to watch the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. We arrived early enough to catch the last quarter of the Boston – Miami game. For some reason, the satellite feed conked out and we missed the fifth and sixth rounds. As the fight wore on, there became a growing sense of foreboding that this was somehow going to be very close. When the decision was announced, there was not much outrage at the decision although Chieffy adamantly remained convinced that Pacquiao won.
Back at the hotel, a press conference was held for the match. Attending the session were Coach Michael, Phil, James and Bacolod LOC Chairman Junie Lizares. Coach Weiss bared some details of the preparations for the Suzuki Cup at the end of the year which will include a trip to the United States in August. A local reporter tried to force Phil and James to say that Panaad was better than Rizal which the two tried to gamely avoid. Eventually this persistent reporter got an answer that he may not totally have been expecting which was that on balance the brothers said the conditions are slightly better in Rizal due to the better grass (bermuda vs carabao) and lighting (lower, thus nakakasilaw, at Panaad) but also mentioned that crowd support in both stadiums was equally great. They ended by saying they like going to Bacolod.
I hope we end this Panaad vs Rizal thing. The team likes to play in both places. The country needs more pitches and having both is a blessing. The team would like to play international matches in other areas in the country and if the facilities are there and the logistics work out, they will.
Around 3 pm about a third of the team went to the Robinsons Place in Bacolod to do an autograph session at the Puma store at the mall. Entry into and exit from the mall was via the fire exit to minimize the chances of the players being mobbed. From the mall, this group of players and some staff proceeded to Panaad for the 5:30 pm practice.
Tomorrow will be rest day. Access for fans to the hotel will be limited to allow the players to get some rest.