4 teams step up SuperLiga finals bid

Games today (Muntinlupa Sports Center)

2 p.m. – Sta. Lucia vs Generika (For 5th)

4 p.m. – Petron vs Smart-Army (semis)

6 p.m. – Cignal vs F2 Logistics (Semis)

MANILA, Philippines — The last four teams standing in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference – unbeaten Cignal HD, fancied Petron Blaze and F2 Logistics and overachieving Smart-Army – seek to take it to the next level as they clash in a pair of explosive knockout semifinals today at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.

The defending champion HD Spikers, who swept the four-game preliminaries in Pool B to clinch an outright semis seat, tangle with the Cargo Movers in a livewire dispute for a finals berth at 6 p.m. while Pool B topnotcher Blaze Spikers and surprise semifinalist Giga Hitters face off at 4 p.m. to contest the other slot in the best-of-three championship series.

Cignal will bank on resurgent Rachel Ann Daquis and reliable Mylene Paat, Mumay Vivas, Janine Navarro, Acy Masangkay and Jheck Dionela to stay in the hunt for a repeat after emerging co-champion last year with Japanese side Kobe Shinwa University.

“The semis is the most important match for us. We need to work together because this is our path our goal of making it to the finals again,” said HD Spikers coach Edgar Barroga.

F2 mentor Ramil de Jesus said his crew led by Aby Maraño, Kiana Dy, Kim Fajardo, and Dawn Macandili need to improve on their blocking to have a better chance at winning.

“We need to focus on blocking because last game against Sta. Lucia our opponents scored on their attacks off check balls, which means our blockers’ positioning wasn’t as organized,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Blaze Spikers enter the game fresher coming off a weeklong break but can’t take the Giga Hitters’ lightly.

“It’s great to get the outright semis as we had a good rest and enough time to prepare. But we have to work harder this time as one loss would send us out,” said Petron coach Shaq delos Santos, who has at his disposal Ces Molina, Mika Reyes, Aiza Pontillas, Bernadeth Pons, Sisi Rondina and Rhea Dimaculangan.

Smart-Army, a combo of veterans led by Ging Balse Pabayo, Joanne Bunag and Nene Bautista and young guns from Santo Tomas, hit the court eyeing an upset in their first ever semis stint.