They have everything going for them —talent, skills, momentum—and the crowd. But Petro Gazz is unfazed by Creamline’s seemingly overwhelming advantage, basking in the glow of being the underdog in a title series that took a sharp turn the last couple of nights.
“We will prepare hard, we will try our best,” vowed Petro Gazz Jerry Yee, the way they did in repelling the fancied Cignal HD Spikers in the Final Four and spoiling what had long been expected to be a classic showdown of unbeaten teams.
But the Angels had other things in mind and rewrote the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Finals script, flashing a big fighting heart to battle back from 0-1 down in their best-of-three semis with an epic win in a five-set Game Two duel and then finishing off the hard-luck HD Spikers in four in sudden death last Monday.
Game One of the best-of-three title series is set at 6 tonight at the MOA Arena before an expected record crowd hungry for such action that teams like Creamline and Petro Gazz could straightforwardly provide with their power and class.
Cignal HD and Choco Mucho also begin their side of the duel for third place at 3 p.m. with both matches to be aired live on One Sports and One Sports Plus and on social media platforms Cignal Play, Gigaplay, KUMU and pvl.ph.
But for Petro Gazz, gaining another crack at PVL glory is one thing. Nailing a second championship is another.
“Creamline is intact, strong and has the chemistry,” said Yee, citing their rival’s awesome firepower anchored on Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza. “If (setter) Jia (De Guzman) gets active in the middle, ‘masakit sa ulo.’”
“So I see no advantage (for us),” Yee added.
Creamline, which swept sister team Choco Mucho in their side of the semis face-off, is as thrilled as Petro Gazz to get a shot at a fourth PVL diadem and more importantly, reclaim the crown and become the second pro champion after Chery Tiggo.
“We’re excited (to be in the finals again),” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses, whose talented crew will be more than equipped and driven to go up against the Angels and settle an unfinished business.
“It’s so much different from the last year campaign where we came up short,” said Valdez, who helped power the Cool Smashers to a five-set win over the Angels to clinch the top seeding in group prelims play. “But it has served as an extra motivation for this year’s campaign. And it showed in our games how much hard work we have put to get back to the finals—all the players and the coaching staff are so focused.”
“It will be a different finals for us but we hope that we’ll be able to apply all the learnings we had from all the bubble training and bubble setups,” she added.
For many, their third title face-off could rekindle a rivalry. The Angels surprised the Cool Smashers to score a PVL breakthrough in the 2019 Reinforced Conference but the latter quickly got back at the former in the next conference to win the Open crown.
But while Creamline, which previously swept the Reinforced and Open crowns in 2018, would sustain its form to reach another finals in the league’s inaugural pro staging won by Chery Tiggo in Ilocos Norte last year, Petro Gazz would finish third.
“Masaya, masarap kung rivalry, it will be an honor to be labeled as Creamline’s rival. It’s a compliment,” added Yee.
And a challenge.
And the Angels are just too primed up, well-motivated to take on the Cool Smashers on a combo of old hands and new recruits made up of Myla Pablo, Grethcel Soltones, Aiza Pontillas, MJ Phillips, Jonah Sabete, Nicole Tiamzon, Seth Rodriguez, Djanel Cheng, Remy Palma, liberos Shiela Pineda and Cienne Cruz and seasoned playmaker Chie Saet.
“We have no time to prepare but we will give it our best shot, we will give them a good fight,” said Saet, whose veteran smarts and leadership had helped put the Angels on the threshold of a second championship.
“Whatever the result, we will all be thankful,” she added.