TOP seed Creamline mixes it up with No. 4 F2 Logistics while second-ranked Petro Gazz slugs it out with No. 3 PLDT in a pair of semifinal matches in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All Filipino Conference angled on settling old scores.
The grudge best-of-three series among the best teams to have come out of the eliminations grind aren’t only about gaining a head-start but also reasserting will, guaranteeing a pair of slam-bang duels expected to go down to the last serve, quick attack or combination play, or simply kill.
It’s also about gaining confidence and momentum needed in a short series for cracks at the most coveted championship in each PVL season.
The Cool Smashers—boasting of talents like Tots Carlos, Ced Domingo, Michele Gumabao, Pangs Panaga and Jema Galanza—and the Myla Pablo-Kim Dy-led Cargo Movers face-off at 4 p.m. Saturday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City with the defending champions raring to get back at the very team that scuttled their sweep bid for their lone loss in five-set fashion in the eliminations last February 18.
But F2 Logistics—backstopped by Aby Maraño, Ara Galang and Ivy Lacsina—is more than ready to prove its real worth and the Cargo Movers are so dogged to go all the way to the championship coming off their first foray in post-season play of the country’s premier league organized by Sports Vision.
Like F2 Logistics, PLDT sets out for its 6:30 p.m. encounter with Petro Gazz enjoying the so-called psychological edge after the High Speed Hitters tripped the Angels, also in five, last February 23.
But it isn’t all about mental but cohesion and the Cool Smashers and the Angels both appear to have blended well despite their slips to their respective Final Four rivals.
While F2 Logistics and PLDT flashed poise in pulling off those escape wins, Creamline and Petro Gazz still pack the firepower and experience observers note could spell the difference in these kind of battles.
Still, PLDT and F2 Logistics have shown winning big games is also about rising to the challenge and both are more than motivated to do a reprise and fuel their respective title drive.
“We know they’re after revenge,” PLDT coach Rald Ricafort said. “But we’re ready—despite our tight schedule.”
“We’re the only team [semifinalist] which played just before the semifinals, one-day preparation, but let’s see what happens,” he added.
“We need to maximize the one-day break—to recover and plan—we need to adopt,” said PLDT’s top middle Mika Reyes, who also expects to get solid support from Jovie Prado, Michelle Morente, Dell Palomata and the vastly-improved Mean Mendrez.
Fans also can’t wait to see how Ricafort would fare against the team he steered to the Reinforced Conference crown last year.
“I’ll pick the Angels over our bad game against Creamline,” said Ricafort, whose wards turned back Choco Mucho in four sets the other night to clinch No. 3 and avoid facing the powerhouse Cool Smashers, who swept them last March 7.
But Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro is also one master motivator, whose ploys, ideas and style could easily startle the opposing team’s play-patterns.
The former Ateneo coach is confident that he would draw the kind of games he expects from Grethcel Soltones, Aiza Pontillas, Remy Palma, MJ Phillips and Jonah Sabete given their performances in the run-up to the semis.
Tickets for Game 2 on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena can be purchased through online (www.ticketmax.ph) and at all SM Tickets outlets nationwide with maximum of two tickets per person or e-mail address.
Games are telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play and SMART Live Stream and on pvl.ph.