Smart flirted with disaster before escaping Sta. Lucia, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23, to kick off its campaign in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
After a long hiatus, Gretchel Soltones announced her arrival in style as she provided the spark for the Giga Hitters in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, Sogo, Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Mueller, UCPB Gen and Bizooku.
Soltones, the former San Sebastian College star, delivered a game-high 17 points to practically dominate the spike department in the opening salvo of this battle that also has ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as official broadcast partners.
“I’m very happy to be back after one year,” said Soltones, who was part of the national team that saw action in the AVC Asian Women’s Cup early this month.
“We’re very happy to play in a high-level tournament.”
Smart broke loose from a, 19-all, contest in the third set as it scored five straight points to reach match point, 24-19.
Sta. Lucia threatened within one, 23-24, but Soltones launched a powerful attack for the game-winner.
Smart coach Roger Gorayeb, who’s also back in the league after five years, played down their rousing start.
“I’m happy with the win, we’ve prepared for this and I want all of my players to gain confidence as early as today,” he said.
Team captain Pam Lastimosa finished with eight points for Sta. Lucia, which is marching in this tourney with a couple of key players in sickbay, including Chin Basas and Filipino-American star MJ Philips.
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