Intense volleyball action goes full blast as the best club teams in the country—Petron and F2 Logistics—essay another chapter in their storied rivalry when they clash in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix best-of-three finals today at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Game 1 is set at 7 p.m. with the Blaze Spikers and the Cargo Movers clashing for sixth straight time in the finals of this prestigious women’s club league bankrolled by Asics, Mueller, Mikasa, Senoh, Team Rebel Sports, Bizooku, UCPB Gen, Cocolife, Hotel Sogo and Data Project.
Prior to that, Cignal and PLDT Home Fibr seek to end their campaign on a high note when they collide in the bronze-medal match at 4:15 p.m.
Bannered by the best imports and most reliable local players, both the Blaze Spikers and the Cargo Movers were heavily tipped to dispute the crown.
Petron soared to 14 straight wins in the classification before creaming Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals and Cignal in the semifinals to move two wins away from sweeping the tournament, a feat it first achieved in the All-Filipino Conference in 2015.
F2 Logistics, on the other hand, blew hot and cold as it lost star setter Kim Fajardo to injury, prompting it to finish the classification with an 11-3 mark. The Cargo Movers survived a scare from a game Foton squad in the quarterfinals before restoring order when they dominated the Power Hitters in the semifinals.
Now, F2 Logistics is back in the finals, carrying an underdog status against a team who last tasted a setback during Game 2 of the All-Filipino finals on Dec. 18 of last year.
But for head coach Shaq Delos Santos, previous record and statistics should be flushed down the drain as this finals series is an entirely different ballgame.
“The sweep in the preliminaries is over. This is now a brand-new challenge for us,” said Delos Santos, who is no stranger to sweeping the conference as he served as assistant to George Pascua during that historic run in 2015.
“We have to double our effort if we want to be back-to-back champions. We know for sure that they will try their best to win Game 1 to gain momentum and dictate the tempo of this series.”
Delos, however, admitted that they are wary of their former import – reigning Most Valuable Player Lindsay Stalzer – who crossed the enemy lines and will be powering F2 Logistics in spoiling their championship parade.
“She knows what it takes to win. I’m sure Lindsay will go all out so we have to be ready,” said Delos Santos, who will bank anew on the prowess of imports Stephanie Niemer and Katherine Bell as well as the local crew of Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Denden Lazaro and Rhea Dimaculangan.
Meanwhile, de Jesus admitted that this is the toughest conference for them as some of his key players like Fajardo, Cha Cruz and Kianna Dy are at the sidelines of this tourney that also has ESPN5 and 5Plus as broadcast partners.
With that, they have to bank on the experience of Stalzer and MJ Perez as well as the solid plays of Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili and Ara Galang.
“We’ve been here before and I know that the finals this year is tougher than what we used to have against Petron,” said de Jesus, who owns 11 titles as head coach of De La Salle University in the UAAP.
“We may have some players at the sidelines, but we will play our hearts out to finally win over them.”
Games Today (Filoil Flying V Centre)
4:15 p.m. – Cignal vs PLDT
7:00 p.m. – Petron vs F2 Logistics