Cignal Pulls Rug on PLDT-Air Force, Claims Men’s Division Championship

The Cignal HD Spikers did the unthinkable when it beat the PLDT Home Telpad-Philippine Air Force Turbo Boosters in straight sets, 25-23, 26-24, 25-19, to win in an hour and 27 minutes the men’s division finals of the 2014 Phlippine SuperLiga Grand Prix presented by ASICS on November 28 at the Cuneta Astrodome and take hold of their first men’s division championship trophy.

The PSL All Filipino Conference runner up planted the seeds of a surprise when it narrowly won the first two sets. With the fight taken out of them, the Turbo Boosters surrendered an 8-3 lead in the third frame before Cignal went on an 11-7 tear to go ahead 22-18 as PLDT-PAF coach Jasper Jimenez called a timeout to try to delay the inevitable. Two Gilbert Ablan attacks later, he and his teammates were whooping it up in the middle of their court.

“Sweet revenge,” was how champion coach Michael Carino described the feeling. “Kailangan manalo against PLDT kasi kailangan patunayan na hindi pang-second lang. Yun yung motivation sa practice.”

Ablan, the tournament’s best opposite spiker, led the HD Spikers with 20 points, 18 of them from attacks and two from blocks.

“Siya ang isa sa mga pinakamasipag na players,” Carino heaped on the topscorer. “Madali siyang turuan, open yung utak niya sa mga ideas. Maganda magturo sa mga players na ganoon.”

MVP and second best outside spiker Lorenzo Capate, Jr, whose family was present in the venue, complemented with 15 markers.

“Rookie pero grabe maglaro. Buo ang loob. Gusto ng bata manalo,” Carino said.

Ralph Diezmo accounted for five of his squad’s 11 block points.

“Inaral namin kada posisyon, kada tao. Nakita niyo naman yung game, bawat galaw ng kalaban alam namin kung saan pupunta,” exclaimed Carino, a first-time champion head coach in any level of competition. ““Yun ang pinaka-blessing. First time ko maging head coach, semi-pro pa.”

For its effort, Cignal HD will represent the country in next year’s Asian Men’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan.

“Yung ganyang klaseng laban para ka na ring tumama sa lotto,” the current College of Saint Benilde volleyball team mentor mentioned. “Sabi ko sa kanila na kung sino yung hindi mag-give up, iyun talaga ang mananalo. Kahit lumamang yung kalaban basta hindi tayo gumi-give up, tayo ang mananalo. Iyun ang pinatunayan ng players ko ngayon.”

First best outside spiker Alnakran Abdilla bore his team on his shoulders with 18 points. This is the PLDT franchise’s second loss overall and first since last year’s PSL Grand Prix when it was defeated by the defunct Giligan’s Sisig Kings in five sets on November 15, 2013.

Other individual awardees in the men’s division are Fuentes (second best middle blocker) and Sandy Montero (best libero) of Cignal, and Antonio Torres (first best middle blocker) and Alegro Carpio (best setter) of third place club Cavite. (JP Abcede)


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