June 25, 2024

'Kailangan natin ilaban para kay Jau': How Jau Umandal's grit inspired Cignal towards Spikers' Turf title retention

Jau Umandal was stretchered off the court after an unfortunate accident. | Photo (c) RM Chua/One Sports

In the championship conquest of Cignal in the 2024 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference, Jau Umandal emerged as a symbol of determination and sacrifice.


Umandal displayed unwavering commitment to his team’s success throughout the title series, which was exemplified by his fearless and selfless plays on the court.


In Game One of the Finals last Wednesday, May 8, Umandal dove headfirst into the announcer's table in an attempt to save a ball from going out of bounds. This act of sheer grit ignited a fire from underneath the HD Spikers, propelling them to a win over the Criss Cross King Crunchers.


However, it was in Game Two that Umandal’s dedication took a perilous turn.

 

[ALSO READ: Spikers’ Turf: Bryan Bagunas, Cignal sweep Criss Cross, retain crown in Open Conference]


Engaged in a deadlock at 17 in the decisive third frame, Umandal went for a back row attack. The momentum from his leap carried him over to the other side of the net, where he collided with the descending elbow of Jude Garcia, who had just attempted to block his attack.


The impact sent Umandal reeling, as he held on to his head and staggered before collapsing to the ground.


"Mulat mo lang," his teammates were heard saying as they kept saying Umandal's name. "Kami nang bahala, Jau."

 

Umandal was stretchered off the court, a sight that galvanized the HD Spikers, who then rallied together and launched a spirited run to clinch the title.

 

“Siyempre sabi ko sa mga teammates ko, nilaban ni Jau kaya kailangan namin ilaban. Kasi siya, nandoon ‘yung puso niya para manalo sa finals na ‘to, so why not kami,” said Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, who poured 22 points and eight excellent receptions.


“‘Susuko na lang ba kami?’ Sinabi ko sa teammates ko na kailangan natin ilaban para kay Jau.”

 

[ALSO READ: Spikers’ Turf: Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas relishes first title with Cignal]


 

Umandal was rushed to the Adventist Medical Center. Hours later, he reassured everyone of his well-being by posting an update on social media.

 


Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor offered their win for the tournament’s Best Outside Hitter, who finished with 18 points before the unfortunate accident.


“Kailangan talaga 'yung composure during the game nandoon eh. Kanina sinasabi namin, pagtrabahuhan natin para kay Jau. So malaking boost din sa kanila ‘yun,” Clamor said.


Umandal may not have been on the court when Cignal clinched the title, but his influence was undeniably felt throughout the championship-sealing series.