Exorcising the ghost of the past will be Petron’s main objective when they clash with F2 Logistics in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three finals series starting May 1 (Tuesday) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos said they are drawing motivation from their heart-breaking setback last year where they suffered a massive meltdown in Games 2 and 3 to surrender the Grand Prix title to F2 Logistics.
It could have been Petron’s first Grand Prix crown since emerging victorious in 2014 with American Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian Erica Adachi as reinforcements.
But the Cargo Movers crawled their way back from a 0-9 hole in the second set to steal Game 2 and crush the Blaze Spikers’ morale in the do-or-die Game 3 en route to their second crown in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
“We will do everything to prepare for our finals rematch with F2 Logistics,” said Delos Santos shortly after knocking own Cocolife in their best-of-three semifinal showdown.
“F2 (Logistics) is a very talented team. It is a strong and aggressive team. The big challenge for us is what happened last year when we lost to them in the finals. This is a new opportunity and we’re accepting this challenge to hopefully win the title.”
A lot of things already happened since that dramatic finals series last year.
The Cargo Movers lost De La Salle University standouts Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, Desiree Cheng and Dawn Macandili as well as head coach Ramil de Jesus, who opted to spearhead the Lady Spikers in defending their title in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
For the Blaze Spikers, a major piece in their championship puzzle, American import Hillary Hurley is gone due to a recurring ankle injury.
Still, Delos Santos likes their chances, especially with an all-around player in Katherine Bell and veteran Lindsay Stalzer manning the attack zone while Japanese libero Yuri Fukuda, Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Remy Palma patrol the defensive end.
“I like our chances this year,” he said. “Compared to last year, the chemistry and communication of the team have improved. Personally, I’m excited to start this finals series.”
F2 Logistics coach Arnold Laniog said they are ready for whatever Petron will throw at them and they are eyeing no less than the title.
“The mindset of the players is to defend the title,” he said, adding that Kim Fajardo, Aby Maraño and Cha Cruz are all ready to support Most Valuable Player MJ Perez and Kennedy Bryan in this tough battle.
“I’m telling the players that they are the reigning champions and everybody is looking to beat them. So they have to show up prepared and ready to win because their pride as defending champions is at stake.
All games are live on ESPN5/Cignal’s Hyper. Buy tix at gate or ticketnet P170/P270/P370. Buy online here https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/3656694/philippine-superliga-finalsgame-1-quezon-city-smart-araneta-coliseum
May 1 at Smart Araneta Coliseum
415pm Foton vs Cocolife (battle for bronze)
7pm @F2CargoMovers vs Petron (Championship game 1)
May 3 @FilOilSanJuan
7pm @F2CargoMovers vs Petron (Championship game 2 and awarding)
May 5 @FilOilSanJuan (If Necessary)
7pm @F2CargoMovers vs Petron (Championship and awarding)