Reclaiming a lost title will be its ultimate objective when F2 Logistics battles Cignal in Game 2 of their Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference best-of-three finals series today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is at 7 p.m. with the Cargo Movers looking to finally capture the title that it lost when Petron dethroned them in a thrilling finale in 2017 before winning again in 2018.
Since acquiring the services of Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau, the F2 Logistics has been invincible.
It finished the eliminations with a 12-2 mark before creaming Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals and Foton in the semifinals to book a finals duel with Cignal, which shocked powerhouse Petron in a pair of thrilling semifinal encounters last week.
But overcoming the HD Spikers wasn’t easy.
In Game 1, the Cargo Movers raced to a two-set lead until Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Alohi Robins-Hardy and the HD Spikers launched a furious comeback to drag the match to a deciding fifth set.
Fortunately for the Cargo Movers, the championship experience of Aby Marano, Ara Galang and Kim Fajardo as well as the volleyball prowess of Mau came through in the fifth, allowing them to escape with a nail-biting 25-22, 26-24, 18-25, 17-25 victory, much to the delight of a banner crowd that trooped to the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Saturday.
F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus said Game 2 would be much harder than Game 1.
“We’re not expecting an easy fight. In fact, we were looking forward and prepared for a hard battle in Game 1,” said de Jesus following their escape act in Game 1 of this series that has Team Rebel Sports, SOGO, Eurotel, PCSO, Cocolife, UCPB Gen, Mueller, Senoh, Asics, Bizooku and One Sport as sponsors.
Skipper Marano added that they would show up prepared to show that they deserve to regain the title that has eluded them for the past two years.
“Cignal pushed us to our limits so it is only fitting to double—or even triple—our performance in the next game,” said Marano, who also skippers the national women’s team that will campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games this November.
True enough, the HD Spikers are just getting warmed up.
Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga said they may have lost Game 1, but they would still be marching Game 2 with high morale after realizing that they can also play volleyball at an elite level, especially after they masterfully crawled back from a two-set down to forge a decider.
And if not for some untimely errors down the stretch, the outcome could have been different.
“Our confidence definitely soared after Game 1,” said Barroga, who have inside information on F2 Logistics’ system after former Cargo Movers Norielle Ipac and May Luna joined them in the off-season.
“I like what I saw on my team. I saw the fire in their eyes and I know that nobody would back down without putting up a fight.”
Team captain Daquis, who was the Most Valuable Player when Petron made historic sweep of the All-Filipino in 2015, stressed that the loss in Game 1 only fire them up.
“It was such a close and good fight,” said Daquis, a former national team mainstay.
“The mere fact that we were able to play against them in five sets is already enough for us to be confident heading into Game 2. We just have to work hard to get that victory.”
“And once we win Game 2, anything could happen.”
Should Cignal prevail, Game 3 is set on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.