PLDT Home Fibr and Creamline take the first of two cracks at the semifinals against rivals whose respective campaigns had taken separate courses with two playdates left in the elimination round of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
While the High Speed Hitters brace for a stiff challenge from the back-to-the-wall Choco Mucho Flying Titans thrilled over the expected return of their stalwarts in their 2:30 p.m. clash at the Filoil Ecooil Centre today, the Cool Smashers set out for their 5:30 p.m. match confident but wary against the also-ran Chery Tiggo side seeking to end their unsuccessful campaign with a flourish.
Tied at second with 3-1 slates, PLDT and Creamline need to hurdle at least one of their last two assignments to join early semifinalist Cignal HD in the next round with idle Army gaining solo fourth at 3-2 following a sweep of Chery Tiggo last Tuesday.
Despite its 1-3 card, the fifth-running Choco Mucho remains hopeful of barging into the next round via backdoor. But the Flying Titans must not only sweep its last two games, including against Petro Gazz, but also hope that Army would drop its final game to Creamline, both on Saturday.
One thing that could go for Choco Mucho is that top hitter Kat Tolentino and fellow starters Des Cheng and Cherry Nunag and back-up libero Thang Ponce are likely to suit up after failing to suit up in their last two games due to various reasons.
They were actually cleared to play as early as last Saturday against sister team Creamline but coach Oliver Almadro had opted to sit them out for conditioning.
Middle hitter/blocker Aduke Ogunsanya, however, is out with an ankle injury.
That makes the PLDT-Choco Mucho clash a match to watch with Jules Samonte, Fiola Ceballos, Chin Chin Basas and the towering pair of Dell Palomata and Mika Reyes expected to crank up their respective games to foil the Flying Titans and tow the Cool Smashers and the Lady Troopers into the next round.
Two guest teams from Taiwan (KingWhale) and Japan (Kobe Shinwa) will join the top four squads in the next round, another single round robin phase with the top two disputing the crown in a winner-take-all match.
Meanwhile, under the PVL points system, teams receive 3 points for a 3-0 or 3-1 victory, 2 points for a 3-2 win, and 1 point for a match lost via 2-3. No points are awarded for games lost in 0-3 or 1-3 fashions or via forfeit.
Army has so far gained 9 quotient points while Choco Mucho has 4.
Games are aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD).
Both channels are also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.
Matches can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website pvl.ph.