MANILA, Philippines—New Motolite reinforcement Krystle Esdelle of Trinidad and Tobago drew praise from coach Godfrey Okumu after she suited up for the team on Wednesday in the 2019 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference — despite just arriving in Manila in the morning.
Esdelle landed from Bucharest at about 10 a.m. to replace the injured Edina Selimovic, and immediately plunged into action for Motolite. She finished with 12 points in her debut, but could not lift the team to victory. Instead, Motolite bowed to BanKo Perlas in a thrilling match, 24-26, 30-32, 24-26.
"One of the players didn't even train with us," Okumu told reporters after the game. "She came in (this morning), and she was able to try to play. So less than 8 hours since she arrived."
That Esdelle met the challenge head on impressed Okumu, who said: "She's not slept in 24 hours. So, all said and done, I think she tried her best."
"To me, I think she did a good job. Defensively she was I think a hundred percent. And, I hope we expect more from the day, and she knows what she expects from herself," he added.
"Players who would come in from the plane and going to a game straight away, for that reason, as a coach I really give her respect."
A member of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, the 34-year-old Esdelle acknowledged that playing in a game just hours after landing "was a little challenging for me."
"It was very hard. But I pulled through what I can. So that was the main goal, just to see how much you can contribute to the team today," she said.
It greatly helped that at Motolite, she has reunited with Channon Thompson, her teammate on their national team. She also spoke glowingly of her local teammates, whom she said welcomed her with open arms.
"These girls are very nice, they're a bunch of sweethearts," she said. "This is my first day here, and they welcomed me. They were not shy or anything."
"They were a nice bunch of girls that welcomed me, and I feel so at home now," she added.
Esdelle has two days to get to know her teammates better before they play again, as they take on defending champion Creamline on Saturday.
"We got a little something today," said Esdelle. "But we need more time."
Okumu has no doubt that Esdelle will perform at a higher level in their next games once she has a chance to rest and get acclimated to playing in the Philippines, and develop chemistry with her new teammates.
"I believe she will be an asset to this team," he said.
Also brimming with confidence is Thompson, who guaranteed that Esdelle will continue to impress in the PVL.
"You have not seen anything yet. That's all I'm saying. You haven't seen anything yet," she said of Esdelle.
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