An attractive reward awaits Petron after sweeping F2 Logistics in the best-of-three finals to claim the Philippine Superliga (SL) All-Filipino Conference crown last Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
PSL president Ramon Suzara announced that the Blaze Spikers would represent the country in the Macau Invitational Women’s Volleyball Tournament from Sept. 23 to 25 in the former Portuguese colony.
A ranking member of the Asian Volleyball Confederation, Suzara said the tourney is another major boost to the development of volleyball in the country and it is only fitting that they send the newly minted All-Filipino champion as the country’s representative.
Aside from the Philippines, also fielding a team in the topnotch tourney that aims to develop friendship and solidarity are China, Hongkong and the host country.
It would be the first time for the Blaze Spikers to represent the country in a foreign competition after donning the national colors in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Phu Ly, Vietnam in 2015.
“For winning the All-Filipino it is only fitting that we appoint Petron as our representative in the Macau tournament,” said Suzara, adding that the tourney would also serve as Petron’s preparation for the Grand Prix.
“We are very confident that Petron will be very competitive based on how it fared in the finals series against F2 Logistics. I’m sure they will play hard and make the country and the league very proud.”
But Petron’s journey to the title of this tourney bankrolled by Rebisco, Gold’s Gym and Belo with TV5 as official broadcast partner wasn’t a cakewalk.
Despite coming up with a very competitive squad led by Most Valuable Player Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes, Sisi Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma and Ria Meneses, a lot of challenges still came the Blaze Spikers’ way.
They looked shaky in the preliminaries and even suffered a pair of setbacks to veteran-laden Cignal side that relegated them to the third spot in the quarterfinals.
Although they dominated Sta. Lucia Realty in the quarterfinals and stunned topseed Foton in the semifinals, observers still counted them out due to the fluid chemistry, firepower and solid defense of the reigning champion, F2 Logistics.
However, the finals was a different story.
Petron marched oozing with confidence and crushed F2 Logistics in straight sets in Game 1, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19, to move closer to the crown.
The Cargo Movers tried to stay alive and gamely turned Game 2 into a marathon match. But the Blaze Spikers proved that they were the hungrier team, running away with a thrilling 26-24, 24-26, 26-24, 23-25, 15-11 victory with a massive crowd serving as a fitting backdrop of their climb back to the throne.
“Communication was the key to this victory,” said Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos, rubbing off speculations that his “super team” would fail to develop chemistry in a very short – but competitive – conference.
“Every time we practice, even the day before the game, we always talk and discuss everything. I’m not the only one talking; everybody is contributing to the discussion. It gave us a very good result because we got an idea of how we think and what we are capable of doing.”
Delos Santos said their journey to greatness wouldn’t end with an All-Filipino crown. They will keep on working and remain hungry and the tournament in Macau could be a perfect jump-off point.