by Jerome Lagunzad
Petron exorcised the ghost of the past in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix and nobody among the Blaze Spikers was more thrilled than veteran import Lindsay Stalzer.
“Of course, it feels amazing,” said the 6-foot-1 American star, moments after Petron romped past dethroned champion F2 Logistics, 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18, Saturday night crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Last season left a bitter taste in my mouth. So, it’s so awesome when you set a goal and you work towards that goal every single day and it finally paid off. It’s a great feeling for all of us.”
The Blaze Spikers claimed their second Grand Prix title at the expense of the same team that beat them last year in the finals.
Stalzer won her second tournament MVP title, but fellow American Katherine Bell shared the spotlight with her offensive prowess.
The former University of Texas standout scored a game-high 28 points, 25 of them off offense, as she and Stalzer proved unstoppable in the winner-take-all match.
“Kath provided an immense support to me,” said Stalzer, who finished with 24 points. “Just all the things she said to me, the appreciation, maturity and composure that she has, I’m so grateful and lucky that she joined our team. She’s a high class, high level player.”
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos also got a needed lift from her top locals, with Remy Palma, Mika Reyes and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas combining for 23 points and heady playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan coming up with 29 excellent sets, most of them for Bell and Stalzer.
“After three conferences of the Grand Prix, finally we made it,” said Delos Santos, who served as a deputy of former head coach George Pascua who steered Petron to the Grand Prix title in 2014.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to explain this feeling. I’m just so happy that we finally achieved our goal and took home the crown,” he added. “Girls, we finished our business. Good job.”