Cignal escapes past Systema in Super Liga debut
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2014 - 7:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -- Cignal fended off a potential meltdown and turned back gritty Systema, 25-14, 25-17, 17-25, 23-25, 15-13, Friday to debut with a bang in the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Rookie Gilbert Ablan played man-possessed by unloading 28 hits, most of it coming in the first two sets when HD Spikers built a 2-0 set lead and in the fifth and final set when they overcame a spirited charge by the Active Smashers.

It included a pair of crisp kills by Ablan, who played college ball for San Beda in the NCAA, that sealed the deal in a match that lasted exactly two hours.

"I'm so proud of him, he worked hard for this game and practice," said Cignal coach Michael Carino in Filipino referring to the 21-year-old power-spiking Ablan.

And Ablan got help with Emilio Aguinaldo standout Howard Mojica and Perpetual Help hotshot and NCAA MVP Jay dela Cruz scattering 16 and 13 hits, respectively.

Carino though thinks there are still rooms for improvement.

"We need to improve our defense and blocking and we should learn to respect our opponents and not play lousy when we're leading," he said.

Truly, Cignal's once rocksolid defense and discplined attack vanished when it erected a two-set lead, allowing Systema to snap out of a funk, snatch the third and fourth sets, force a decider and fight their way back into the match.

Until Ablan finished them off.
John Depante spearheaded the Active Smashers with 18 while AJ Pareja chipped in 13 for a team that is also bannered by popular actor and sportsman Richard Gomez.

ABLAN ACTIVE SMASHERS CIGNAL CUNETA ASTRODOME EMILIO AGUINALDO HOWARD MOJICA AND PERPETUAL HELP JOHN DEPANTE MICHAEL CARINO PASAY CITY PHILIPPINE SUPER LIGA ALL-FILIPINO CONFERENCE RICHARD GOMEZ
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