Angels gassing up for Open crown chase

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Angels gassing up for Open crown chase
Members of the Petro Gazz team take a selfie shot during their oncourt championship celebration Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — Moments after its magnificent Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference title conquest, Petro Gazz has set its sight on a title that has long been eluding the franchise – the Open or All-Filipino Conference.

“It’s really a tough fight in the All-Filipino because the other teams have star-studded rosters,” said triumphant Angels coach Rald Ricafort after steering his charges to the club’s second Reinforced Conference crown since their breakthrough win three years back.

Ricafort was referring to three-time Open titlist Creamline, sister team Choco Mucho and F2 Logistics as the early favorites in the season-launching conference early next year.

“Like Creamline, the Rebisco teams, F2 Logistics, those are strong with deep lineups,” said Ricafort. “But we will still fight for it and we still need to work harder and hopefully we could snare another title.”

The closest the Angels came close to claiming a championship outside the Reinforced came in 2019 when it made the Open finals only to get swept in two games by the Cool Smashers.

Creamline, a loaded team bannered by former MVP winners Alyssa Valdez, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza and Jia de Guzman, should be the biggest thorn to Petro Gazz’s ambitious bid as it has always given the latter nightmares.

In fact, the Angels lost their two meetings with the Cool Smashers in the Reinforced including an embarrassing straight-set defeat in the semis that sent the former on the brink of elimination.

But as fate would have it, Petro Gazz turned things around in its favor and eventually won it all while Creamline crashed out of the finals and settled for the bronze.

But with the acquisition of MJ Philips and seasoned Aiza Pontillas and Myla Pablo, early this year, the sky is the limit for Petro Gazz.

“We need to work out the system for the locals, but slowly, we’re getting there,” said Ricafort.



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