Two of the best club teams in the country – F2 Logistics and Petron – take their intense rivalry to the next level when they clash in sudden-death Game 3 of their Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Battle royale kicks off at 6 pm with both the Cargo Movers and the Blaze Spikers looking to add another gem in their growing collection of trophies in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by UCPB Gen and Isuzu with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Already in their third finals encounter, there is no doubt that there’s a heated rivalry between the Cargo Movers and Petron.
They both finished the classification with a 9-1 win-loss mark and coasted to the quarterfinals and semifinals of this tourney that also has Senoh, Mikasa, LGR, Grand Sport and Asics as technical sponsors in dominant fashion.
But in the finals, it’s a different story.
Petron drew the first blood with a thrilling 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 25-22, 15-9 victory in Game 1, thanks to the explosion of import Katherine Bell, who caught fire down the stretch en route to a 42-hit effort, the best league’s offensive production behind the 56 points of Cuban Gyselle Silva last month.
The Cargo Movers however refused to give up.
With reigning Most Valuable Player Maria Jose Perez dropping bombs, F2 Logistics registered a masterful 25-17, 25-22, 25-19 victory in Game 2 to formally setting the stage for an intense, dramatic winner-take-all battle.
Perez notched 17 kills and three blocks for game-high 20 points for the Cargo Movers, who tallied 11 blocks to limit power-spiking Bell to only 15 points – her lowest output since arriving in the country two weeks ago.
“I told the team that if we can’t stop Bell, at least we should control or neutralize her production,” said Laniog, giving special credit to the fighting heart his wards displayed all throughout the one-hour and 22 minutes of battle.
“Our mindset was fixed on the idea that this would be our last game so we might as well give our very best. Even if we don’t succeed, at least we gave our best. Fortunately, we won and we now have an opportunity to defend our crown.”
The Cargo Movers will march in full force as they added former UAAP Most Valuable Player Majoy Baron in the mix to help Cherry Nunag, Lourdes Clemente and Aby Maraño in the middle blocker spot.
The 6-foot-1 Baron, who is fresh from leading De La Salle University to its third UAAP crown, was cleared to play after the Cargo Movers put Fritz Gallenero in the injured list.
F2 Logistics team manager Hollie Reyes said they have to preserve Gallenero’s health since she will represent the squad in the PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup later this month.
“We know our middle blockers are peaking and we don’t want to disrupt that momentum. We just feel that the need to activate Majoy for defensive purposes.”
But Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos isn’t worried.
“We don’t have to do anything special. The skills are already there,” said Delos Santos, who will bank on Lindsay Stalzer, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Rhea Dimaculangan and Mika Reyes to help Bell on both ends of the floor.
“It all boils down to desire to win and mental toughness inside the court. For me, the skills and strategies will all come out if we will show the hunger, desire and eagerness to win.”
Here’s the livestream link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvoxIivkTCM
#PSLGrandFinalsOnESPN5 May 5 at Smart Araneta Coliseum live on ESPN5 and Cignal’s Hyper
5pm Gates open
6pm @F2CargoMovers vs Petron (Championship and awarding)
Tickets P170/P270/P370 at gate, Ticketnet or online https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/3932338/philippine-superliga-finalsgame-3-quezon-city-smart-araneta-coliseum