Bitter rivals Petron and F2 Logistics seek to arrange their seventh straight finals duel when they tackle separate foes in the semifinals of the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference today at the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
The Blaze Spikers, who have been ruling this mid-season conference for the past two years, battle Cignal in the 7 p.m. featured encounter while the Cargo Movers face Foton in the 4:15 appetizer of this prestigious women’s club league bankrolled by Team Rebel Sports, SOGO, Eurotel, PCSO, Cocolife, UCPB Gen, Mueller, Senoh, Asics, Bizooku and One Sport.
Petron and F2 Logistics will be armed with a twice-to-beat advantage after coming up with a 1-2 finish in the double-round preliminaries of this tourney that also has ESPN5 and Kapatid TV5 as broadcast partners.
But hopes are high on the Blaze Spikers.
After posting 12 straight wins to shut down the preliminaries with an impressive 13-1 win-loss slate, the Blaze Spikers flaunted their strength as they sent rookie team Marinerang Pilipina packing in the quarterfinals.
Head coach Shaq Delos Santos liked what he saw, saying that they are peaking as the league enters its very crucial stretch.
“I’m glad that our players are playing on top of their game, but this semifinals we have to be more eager,” said Delos Santos. “We have to be more aggressive and sustain the level of our game for us to achieve our goal.”
With the hard-hitting tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons at the attack zone, the core of Frances Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Rheas, Rhea Dimaculangan and Denden Lazaro are tipped to go all out against the seasoned tandem of Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga with do-it-all Filipino-American playmaker Alohi Robins-Hardy directing traffic.
Against Generika-Ayala in the quarterfinals, the troika of Daquis, Gonzaga and Robins-Hardy did wonders at the defensive end, posting 16 blocks to pull off a convincing 25-15, 17-25, 25-18, 25-22 win.
“We’re excited because even they swept us in the preliminary round, we still pushed them to their limits,” said Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga, whose wards forced a pair of five-set matches with the defending champion. “This time, we’ll be more confident because we know that we got what it takes to beat them.”
Meanwhile, Kalei Mau makes her first PSL semifinal appearance as she leads F2 Logistics against Foton’s towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.
Cargo Movers head coach Ramil De Jesus is eager to reach the finals again but he warns his wards, also bannered by Ara Galang, Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, Kianna Dy, Kim Fajardo and Dawn Macandili, to be careful against the dangerous Tornadoes.
“Our team is very eager to return in the Finals because we have an unfinished business,” De Jesus said. “But facing Foton is not easy so we have to double our efforts against them.”
Aside from the Santiago sisters, Foton head coach is also leaning on Marian Buitre, Eya Laure, Elaine Kasilag, Mina Aganon, Shaya Adorador, Gyselle Sy and Jen Reyes to force a rubber match on Thursday.