Foton, Cignal seek final PSL semis slots
MANILA, Philippines — Foton and Cignal try to book the last remaining semifinal slots when they tackle separate foes in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan Thursday.
It’s going to be another intense battle as two-time champion Tornadoes clash with dangerous Sta. Lucia Realty at 4:15 pm, followed by the collision between the HD Spikers and Cocolife at 7 p.m. in this prestigious club league backed by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
After dominating the single round eliminations with an identical 7-1 win-loss card, heavyweights F2 Logistics and Petron punched the first two slots in the semifinals of this tourney that also has Gerflor and Gold's Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner this Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Cargo Movers made short work of newcomer Iriga City, 25-19, 25-12, 25-17, while the Blaze Spikers went through the wringer before booking a scary 19-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 15-11 victory over Generika-Ayala late Tuesday.
F2 Logistics will face the winner between Cignal and Cocolife while the Petron will battle the survivor between Foton and Sta. Lucia in a sudden-death semifinal affair for a chance to advance to the best-of-three finals starting Tuesday next week.
While reigning champion Foton is tipped to run over Sta. Lucia due to its height, firepower and vast experience, fourth-seed Cignal is expected to have a difficult time before prevailing over the veteran Cocolife side.
The HD Spikers, for one, will continue to miss the services of two of their best spikers — Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis — after falling prey to various injuries.
Gonzaga, a former Most Valuable Player awardee and national team member, crashed with a right knee injury while Daquis was diagnosed with dengue, prompting them to miss the HD Spikers’ last elimination match against Victoria Sport-UST last week.
Although the HD Spikers prevailed in straight sets, head coach George Pascua still couldn’t help but raise the need for other local players like Royse Tubino, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet, Mylene Paat and Janine Marciano to step up against a very seasoned team like the Asset Managers.
“Cocolife is a veteran team. We have to be at our best if we want to advance to the semifinals,” said Pascua, noting that they are coming in as underdogs after the Asset Managers dominated them in five sets in their first encounter, 19-25, 24-26, 27-25, 25-16, 15-9.
Pascua said imports Beth Carey of Australia and Alexis Matthews of United States as well as libero Mami Miyashita of Japan have to assert their dominance at the defensive end to contain the attacking prowess of Tai Manu-Olevao and Taylor Milton.
Aside from Manu-Olevao and Milton, Cocolife also has veterans Tina Salak, Joanne Bunag, Mary Jean Balse, Michele Gumabao and libero Denden Lazaro to turn to when the going gets tough.
“We may be coming in as fourth seed, but I think we are the underdogs here,” he said. “Everybody must step up and contribute because this match is something we can’t afford to lose.”