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Pocari Sweat eyes equalizer vs ‘BP’

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan City)
10 a.m. — Air Force vs Sta. Elena (M)
(Battle for 3rd, Series tied 1-1)
1 p.m. — Cignal vs Megabuilders (M)
(Finals, Series tied 1-1)
4 p.m. — Creamline vs Air Force (W)
(Battle for 3rd, Cool Smashers lead series 1-0)
6:30 p.m. — Pocari Sweat vs BaliPure (W)
(Finals, Water Defenders lead series 1-0)

Pocari Sweat is in a familiar – yet uncomfortable – situation and Lady Warriors coach Rico De Guzman is hoping history will repeat itself.

With little room for any error and still sweating over the fitness of star spiker Myla Pablo, the Lady Warriors try to hurdle their biggest obstacle yet as they intend to prevent what could be a big BaliPure Water Defenders title celebration in Game 2 of the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference women’s finals today.

Game time is at 6:30 p.m. at The Arena in San Juan City, with Pocari Sweat out to bounce back from a stinging straight-sets 22-25, 19-25, 22-25 loss in the opener over the weekend and keep its bid for a golden double alive.

The Lady Warriors, however, have to do it without the usual dominant presence of the 5-foot-9 Pablo, the reigning Conference MVP who might be far from her top form after being confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center since Sunday morning due to urinary tract infection (UTI).

But De Guzman is unfazed, confident Pocari Sweat’s survival instinct will come to the fore just like what it did in overhauling the same series deficit against Hairy Fairy-Air Force in semifinal round.

“‘Yun na nga lang ang pwede kong ipang-motivate sa kanila. Ganito na naman tayo, kailangan bumangon sa talo. Ang mga bida nagpapabugbog sa una. Ang lumalabas, sino ang mananalo? Siyempre ‘yung bida at tayo ‘yun,” he said.

The Water Defenders, the same squad foiled by the Lady Warriors in the season-opening Reinforced Conference last June, should come in armed with ample motivation too.

“Almost ma-out na kami. Ang hirap nu’ng pinagdaanan namin,” stressed BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb, referring to the Water Defenders’ tough road to the finals by toppling top-ranked Creamline in their own thrilling semis encounter.

“Nag-roller coaster kami (in the start). But we will capitalize on our (Game 1) win. Psychologically, may advantage kami.”

The Cool Smashers will have such edge too against the Lady Jet Spikers in Game 2 of their Battle for Third set at 4 p.m.

Creamline, playing without superstar Alyssa Valdez who is leading the Philippines’ title campaign in the Asian Seniors Women’s Championships, is determined to come up with a strong encore to a 25-16, 25-21, 25-19 victory in the opener last Saturday.

In men’s play, Cignal and Megabuilders go at it one last time for the title set at 1 p.m. while Air Force and Sta. Elena square off anew for bronze medal honors at 10 a.m.