National Team Battles Cignal at Imus City; Foton vs UP; Smart-Army vs Cherrylume

Team Standings

Pool A
F2 Logistics 2-0
Petron 2-0
Generika-Ayala 2-1
UP-United Auctioneers Inc. 0-2
Foton 0-3

Pool B:
Cignal 3-0
Smart-Army 2-1
Sta. Lucia 2-2
Cocolife 1-2
UE-Cherrylume 0-3

Games Today

Imus Sports Center, P200 at the gate
2pm — Philippines vs Cignal (live on ESPN5)
415 pm — Foton vs UP-UAI (Live on Aksyon/Hyper)
7pm — Smart-Army vs UE-Cherrylume(Live on Aksyon/Hyper)


IMUS CITY — Smart-Army seeks to clinch the first quarterfinals berth in Pool B when it battles University of the East-Cherrylume in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference that goes on Tour with an explosive triple-header Tuesday at the Imus Sports Center.

Action starts at 7 pm with the Giga Hitters eyeing to finish the preliminary round winning their third out of four matches against winless Iron Lady Warriors who hold a 0-3 win-loss record in Pool B of this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, UCPB Gen and SOGO Hotel with ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as broadcast partners.

Prior to that, the Philippine Team takes on Cignal at 2 pm in the second out of three matches in this league that also has Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Mueller and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.

The Nationals will miss Jaja Santiago, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Maika Ortiz and CJ Rosario who led the depleted nine-woman team in beating Cocolife, 25-13, 25-17, 25-11, last Saturday.

The four stars will be playing for their mother club Foton that is looking to end the preliminary round with a win in Pool A against University of the Philippines-United Auctioneers (0-2) at 4:15 pm.

Expect national team head coach Shaq Delos Santos to field Mika Reyes, Ces Molina, Kianna Dy, Cha Cruz-Behag, Dawn Macandili, MJ Phillips and Rebecca Rivera. They are all expected to see action after missing their first game against Cocolife.

“Hopefully we will be complete. We have to be ready and be in full force as much as possible because we are facing Cignal,” Delos Santos said.

Eyes will be on Smart-Army who have been showing great chemistry between the veterans led by Ging Balse-Pabayo, Nene Bautista, Joanne Bunag and Tin Agno and the young University of Santo Tomas stars Dimdim Pacres, Alina Bicar, Tin Francisco and Caitlyn Viray. They have a 2-1 card to capture the second spot of Pool B.

Although getting the lone outright semifinal ticket in their group is not in their hands anymore, Giga Hitters coach Kungfu Reyes’ marching order is to finish strong and clinch the quarterfinal berth that will give them a chance to face the third seed of Pool A in a knockout match on July 19.

“It’s not in our hands anymore. Our only control is gaining the second place in our group and enter the quarterfinals,” said Reyes, who steered Army to an Invitational title run two years ago beating Thailand’s EST Cola.

The Smart-Army mentor added that they cannot be complacent against UE-Cherrylume that has been putting up a gallant fight with Judith Abil and Mary Ann Mendrez carrying th cudgels despite falling to a 0-3 hole.

“This game is very important. We cannot underestimate Cherrylume because it’s anybody’s (ball) game,“ he said.