Petron goes for kill in Game 2 of PSL finals
The Petron Blaze Spikers celebrate their 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 Finals Game 1 victory over the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the 2017 Philippine Superliga All Filipino Conference at the Muntinlupa City Sports Center Tuesday. | Philippine Superliga/ Roman Prospero
MANILA, Philippines — Intensity and drama are expected to fly as Petron tries to shove reigning champion F2 Logistics off its throne in Game Two of their Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference best-of-three final series 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.
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 competing players.
In Game One, the Blaze Spikers caught the Cargo Movers waking up on the wrong side of the bed, 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 with veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Sisi Rondina, Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons also chipping in significant numbers that makes these Blaze Spikers very dangerous.
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.
“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 agrees.
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 being superb 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 tend 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.”
True enough, the stars of the Cargo Movers played below par.
National team member Kim Fajardo was sluggish while top spiker Ara Galang managed to churn only three points. Another national team member in Aby Marano also had a dismal performance as well as star libero Dawn Macandili, who failed to resolve 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.”