Air Force and Cignal HD kick off their duel for the Spikers’ Turf Season 1 Reinforced Conference crown today with odds just about even between the league’s top spiking teams at The Arena in San Juan.
Though both went through some anxious moments, the twice-to-beat Airmen and the HD Spikers got the job done in the semis just the same, subduing the Navy Sailors, 25-15, 20-25, 29-27, 24-26, 15-12, and the Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 11-25, 15-8, last week to seal what promises to be a classic title clash.
Gametime is at 3 p.m.
Given both teams’ depth and talent, a tight, fierce finish is seen in the best-of-three playoff with Air Force to bank on Rodolfo Labrador, Ruben Inaudito, Reyson Fuentes, Jeffry Malabanan, Abdilla Alnakran, Mike Abria, Edwin Tolentinod, Nino Jeruz and playmaker Jessie Lopez.
Labrador and Fuentes combined for Air Force’s strong finishing kick in the fifth set as they foiled the Sailors’ upset bid and stayed in the hunt for the crown in the season-ending conference of the pioneering men’s league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Air Force rallied to beat Cignal HD, 25-22, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, in their elims clash last Oct. 17 but coach Rhovyl Verayo has opted to downplay their chances, insisting its an evenly-matched title series.
“We don’t consider ourselves the favorites because I think it’s going to be a pretty even match,” said Verayo. “We beat Cignal but anything can happen in the finals.”
Like their rivals, the HD Spikers are equally in fierce form heading to the playoff with the league’s leading hitter Lorenzo Capate Jr. out to flaunt his awesome spiking skills along with Edmar Bonono, Edward Ybanez, Rocky Honrade, Herschel Ramos, the league’s best server Alexis Faytaren, Sandy Montero and setter Ralph Diezmo, also the league leader with a norm of 8.90 success per set.
“We need to play hard and aggressive to be able to beat Air Force,” said Cignal mentor Michael Carino.
Home Ultera and Navy clash in their separate best-of-three series for third at 1 p.m. with the league honoring the conference’s top achievers in simple rites before the finals opener.
1 p.m. – PLDT Home Ultera
vs Navy (best-of-three for 3rd)
3 p.m. – Air Force vs Cignal
(best-of-three for crown)