The thrilling rivalry between two of the best club teams in the country – F2 Logistics and Petron – intensifies as they kick off their Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Action starts at 7 pm with the Cargo Movers and the Blaze Spikers tipped to go all out to capture the crucial win in Game 1 of this prestigious women’s tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Prior to that, Foton and Cocolife figure in a knockout battle at 4:15 pm for bronze medal of this league that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
After figuring in a heated finals showdown last year, both F2 Logistics and Petron trekked identical trails to the finals.
Both of them finished the classification with a league-leading 9-1 win-loss card followed by impressive victories in the quarterfinals and the semifinals, a strong testament to their dominance and status as elite teams in Philippine volleyball.
But in the end, only one team would be left standing.
And F2 Logistics head coach Arnold Laniog pointed out that they are eyeing nothing but their second straight Grand Prix title.
“The mindset of the players is to defend the title,” said Laniog, adding that the system of De La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus will remain as their biggest weapon against a very disciplined team like Petron.
“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 Grand Prix champions is at stake.”
On the other hand, Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos is using their emotional loss to the Cargo Movers in the finals series last year as a motivation to fire up his wards.
Although the pain of that defeat is no longer there, Delos Santos said they are still eager to come up with a dominant win, not only to get back at the Cargo Movers, but also to snap their misfortune in the finals of the Grand Prix.
“Our loss last year is no longer painful. We’ve already accepted it and moved on,” said Delos Santos, who has yet to taste a Grand Prix title since American Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian Erica Adachi served as their reinforcements in 2014.
“We know that the loss was there to help us improve and hungry to win. It was a hard lesson we have to swallow. So we have to do our best to correct our previous mistake and use that setback as a motivation to finally win the (Grand Prix) title.”
Delos Santos said they will have very good chances once imports Katherine Bell, Lindsay Stalzer, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas started to play like a well-oiled machine at the attack zone while deflecting the strong services and passing game of the Cargo Movers.
“Winning Game 1 won’t be easy,” he said.
“All of them are strong servers and good receivers. Their libero, Minami Yoshioka, is also very good. We have to be consistent in targeting them from the service box to throw them our of their comfort zone. It’s going to be an interesting match.”
Meanwhile, the league invited a pair of international referees from Thailand to officiate the finals series.
Nathanon Sowapark and Wichai Wannatawee arrived last night through the joint effort of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and Thailand Volleyball Association to make sure that that the officiating in the finals series will be above par.