HIGH intensity and drama are expected to fly as Petron tries to shove reigning champion F2 Logistics off its throne in Game 2 of their Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference best-of-three final series today (Thursday) at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Action erupts at 5 p.m. with the Blaze Spikers looking to formally capture their third crown after winning the 2014 Grand Prix and 2015 All-Filipino titles of this prestigious club league bankrolled by Rebisco, Belo and Gold’s Gym with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
The battle is tipped to go down the wire with another mammoth crowd in blue and yellow serving as a fitting background in what is seen to be the tightest, fiercest finals showdown in local volleyball circuit due to the glorious past and star power among the competing players.
In Game 1, the Blaze Spikers caught the Cargo Movers off guard, hounding and pounding them to submission to pull off a sweet 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 victory.
National team mainstay Frances Molina provided the spark with 11 points, but it was a well-balanced performance by veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Sisi Rondina, Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons chipping in significant numbers that made these Blaze Spikers very dangerous foes for the Cargo Movers.
Petron also lorded it over at the attack zone (37-29) and service box (8-5) while displaying brilliance on the floor with 34 excellent digs compared to F2 Logistics’ dismal 22.
But for Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, statistics and star power no longer matter in this high level competition.
“This is already the finals,” said Delos Santos, who was part of the coaching staff when Petron tallied a historic sweep of this conference two years ago.
“It’s no longer a question of skills or talent. It’s now a question of willingness and desire. Whoever wants it more, whoever is more hungry, will definitely win the title.”
F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus has the same mindset.
Billed as one of the brightest minds in the business for having 10 UAAP titles under his belt, De Jesus knows that the series is still far from over. In fact, the Cargo Movers gained a reputation of playing superb volleyball at making adjustments and playing their hearts out when the odds are stacked against them.
“I know that what we showed in Game 1 wasn’t the real performance of F2 Logistics,” De Jesus said. “The adrenaline of the players in Game 1 was so high that they tended to commit mistakes. I told them that most of them were selected in the national team, so they might as well come up with ‘national team-like’ performance.”
National team member Kim Fajardo was sluggish while top spiker Ara Galang managed to churn only three points, though.
Another national team member in Aby Marano also had a dismal performance as well as star libero Dawn Macandili, who failed to check the sharp kills and dinks dropped by the Blaze Spikers.
De Jesus said his players are torture-tested after winning the All-Filipino title over Foton last year that gave young guns like Kim Dy, Desiree Cheng, Majoy Baron and Macandili enough momentum to power La Salle to the UAAP crown.
“My players are warriors,” de Jesus said. “I know they will bounce back. It’s not yet over. The series won’t definitely end on Thursday.”
Game Today (Filoil Flying V Centre)
5 p.m. – Petron vs F2 Logistics