Cignal faces a familiar and formidable foe while two of NCAA’s top squads collide in a fitting start to what promises to be a slam-bang semifinal round of the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila today (Wednesday).
The HD Spikers step up their drive for a sweep of the season’s two titles, mixing it up with the Sta. Elena Nationals in the 3:30 p.m. duel of power, style and class, kicking off the five-playdate round robin semis that will also feature Japanese guest team Maruichi Hyogo.
Cignal, which swept the Pool C elims and rolled to the semis with a sweep of La Salle-EcoOil in the knockout quarters, hopes to draw the best from its loaded roster led by Jau Umandal and JP Bugaoan, while Nationals, the Pool A topnotchers who leaned on Leo Ordiales and Obed Mukaba to hold off the PGJC-Navy Sealions in a tight four-set encounter, both last Sunday.
Despite their romp over the Green Oilers, Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor emphasized the need for his wards to elevate their performance for the challenging semifinals of the season-ending conference organized by Sports Vision and backed by Bola.TV, Beyond Active Wear, ASICS and Mikasa.
“Going to the semifinals we are happy but of course, we are not contented kung ano ‘yung naging performance namin. Dapat mas maging maganda pa ‘yung performance namin sa semifinals. We’ll prepare more and hayun, one at a time,” said Clamor.
Counterpart Dante Alinsunurin, on the other hand, wants the Nationals to maintain their level of play and recover from their grueling knockout encounter with the Sealions last Sunday.
“Continue lang namin ‘yung ginagawa namin. Siguro kailangan lang namin magpahinga, mag-scouting talaga para sa Japanese team kasi ‘yung mga kasama naman namin sa semifinals nakita naman na namin ‘yung mga makakalaban namin,” said Alinsunurin.
Meanwhile, the Altas, also coming off a dominant win over the FEU-Chef on a Diet Tamaraws in the quarterfinals, seek to get past the Saints Spikers, the surprise package of the conference after snatching the second berth in Pool C next to the HD Spikers then disposing of Pool B topnotchers Cabuyao-Cabstars in the quarters.
Perpetual will again rely on the hard-hitting Louie Ramirez Jefferson Marapoc and Micheal Medalla while Letran will be led by Bem-Bem Bautista while hoping for the return of star middle blocker Vince Himzon, who suffered an ankle sprain after scoring 13 points in the first two sets against the Cabstars.
Games can be streamed live on SpikersTurf.ph and Pilipinas Live and telecast on OneSports and OneSportsPlus.