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Petron goes for PSL sweep

By Jerome Lagunzad

Game Today
(The Arena, San Juan)
6:30 p.m. – Petron vs F2 Logistics

Unless it comes up with its A-plus performance tonight, defending champion F2 Logistics’ reign could end sooner than later.

With little room for any error, the Cargo Movers’ survival instincts should come to the fore as they try to get back at the Petron Blaze Spikers in Game 2 of their Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference titular showdown at The Arena in San Juan City.

Game time is set at 6:30 p.m., with F2 Logistics eager to recover its bearings from a 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 defeat in the opener last Tuesday night that allowed Petron to move within a win away from reclaiming the crown it bagged two years ago via an impressive sweep.

Up against the Blaze Spikers’ solid defense, the Cargo Movers’ top guns hardly made their presence felt throughout, with only opposite hitter Kim Kianna Dy reaching double figures with 11 points, eight of them off kills.

Dy’s more touted teammates, from national team mainstays Aby Maraño and setter Kim Fajardo down to Ara Galang, Desiree Cheng and reigning UAAP MVP Majoy Baron, groped for form. Even star libero Dawn Macandili had her own struggles in the opener.

However, F2 Logistics coach Ramil De Jesus remains unfazed, still confident that the Cargo Movers, composed of past and present La Salle champions, can fight back and drag the Blaze Spikers to a possible winner-take-all match on Saturday.

“My players are warriors. I know they will bounce back. It’s not yet over. The series won’t definitely end on Thursday,” he said, putting on a brave face.

“I know that what we showed in Game 1 wasn’t the real performance of F2 Logistics,” De Jesus went on.

“The adrenaline of the players in Game 1 was so high that they tend to commit mistakes. I told them that most of them were selected in the national team, so they might as well come up with ‘national team-like’ performance.”

While the Cargo Movers couldn’t get their game clicking, everything practically fell into place for the Blaze Spikers, who flaunted a fluid attack behind team captain Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Remy Palma and setter Rhea Dimaculangan.

Even Petron’s shocktroopers, Sisi Rondina and Toni Rose Basas, and libero Bang Pineda, who had 13 of the team’s 34 excellent digs, made ample contributions in the course of their one-hour, 30-minute dismantling of F2 Logistics in Game 1.

Coach Shaq Delos Santos, a long-time Petron assistant who’s raring to steer them to their third overall crown, is hoping the Blaze Spikers can pick up from where they left off.

“It’s no longer a question of skills or talent; it’s now a question of willingness and desire. Whoever wants it more, whoever is more hungry, will definitely win the title,” he stressed.