Foton banked on the late-game heroics of Dindin Manabat to eke out a thrilling 25-23, 27-25, 21-25, 32-30 victory over Cignal in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Manabat, who is returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, delivered crucial blows to lift the Tornadoes to their first victory in the second round of this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
It was the Tornadoes’ fourth victory in eight matches, giving them a handsome chance of nabbing one of the four twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinals of this battle that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sports as technical sponsors.
Cignal, on the other hand, fell to 3-5 win-loss card, making its remaining two games in the second round against F2 Logistics and Generika-Ayala very crucial for its quarterfinal campaign.
New import Channon Thomson passed her first major test, finishing 18 points and seven blocks for the Tornadoes, who made a gamble when they replaced American Brooke Kranda midway into the conference.
Canadian import Elizabeth Wendel also shone as she finished with 19 points while Manabat knocked down 18 markers, two of which coming down the crucial stretch of this match that lasted for two hours and six minutes.
“They were very eager to win,” said Foton coach Rommel Abella, lauding his wards’ hunger and desire especially in the fourth set when the HD Spikers were waging a furious rally.
“This win is very important to us because we beat the no. 5 team. It’s good that we defeated them in four sets because it gave us three points. It’s a huge development as far as our quarterfinal positioning is concerned.”
Abella added that Thompson made a strong performance in her debut.
“Hats off to Channon,” he said, referring to the seasoned Trinidad and Tobago star. “Her experienced abroad carried us through.”
Imports Jeane Horton and Sonja Milanovic served as two-headed dragon for the HD Spikers as they tallied 26 and 25 markers.
Their effort, however, wasn’t enough as Manabat connected a beautiful cross-court hit followed by a down-the-line attack that sealed the victory for the Tornadoes.
(Filoil Flying V Center)
4:15 pm – Petron vs Sta. Lucia Realty
7:00 pm – F2 Logistics vs Cignal