WHILE previous conferences of the Philippine Superliga have been dominated by Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics, the Cocolife Assets Managers are ready to take the next step.Cocolife takes on Petron in the best-of-three semifinals of the Chooks to Go —Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix which starts Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Reigning champion F2 Logistics clashes with Foton.
Formed only last year Cocolife is dead serious in making its first finals appearance in the league.
Head coach Moro Branislav said new import Marta Drpa is already getting familiar to the Filipino brand of game and could be a big help to key players like Royse Tubino, Tina Salak, Denden Lazaro and fellow Serbian Sara Klisura on both ends of the floor.
In fact, in their previous match against Cignal, Drpa displayed versatility as she delivered 11 digs and four blocks on top of 15 kills to finish with 19 points to tow the Asset Managers to the semifinals.
“She is coming along very well. I’m sure she will be ready for the semifinals against Petron,” said Branislav, admitting that the Blaze Spikers have the most fluid roster in the tournament.
“Petron is the best team this season. I must admit that. But it still lost a match. It still has some flaws. We have to put our best foot forward to expose those flaws and convert it to a victory in the semifinals.”
The Asset Managers will have their work cut out for them if they hope to advance to the finals for the first time in the history of the franchise.
The Cargo Movers and the Blaze Spikers are marching into the series with slight advantage.
After clashing in a memorable finals showdown last year, both F2 Logistics and Petron shut down their classification round campaign on top with 9-1 win-loss marks, making them the teams to beat in this battle that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Grand Sport, LGR and Asics as technical partners.
In the quarterfinals, the Cargo Movers had an easy time dominating Smart while Petron clobbered Generika-Ayala to march into the semifinals oozing with confidence.
But the semifinals will be entirely different battles.
Foton is tipped to give F2 Logistics a hard time as it parades a pair of promising collegiate players in Diana Mae Carlos and Isa Molde, while its new import in Channon Thompson is starting to develop chemistry with mainstays Dindin Manabat, CJ Rosario, Maika Ortiz, Gyselle Sy and Canadian reinforcement Elizabeth Wendel.
There’s also a good chance for former Most Valuable Player Jaja Santiago to suit up pending the outcome of the Final Four battle between National University and De La Salle University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
“Although we want her team (NU) to make it all the way to the UAAP finals, having Jaja back in the team will still be a big boost to us,” said Foton head coach Rommel Abella following a straight sets victory over Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals.
Abella added that F2 Logistics is such a strong team and the semifinals would not longer be a match of talent or strategy but of desire and character.
“We should want it more than them,” he said. “F2 Logistics is very strong and disciplined team. But of course, it still has some lapses. And we should be ready to pounce on those lapses.”