A more experienced Foton smothered newcomer Cocolife, 25-16, 25-17, 25-13, on Thursday in the Belo-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Veterans Grethcel Soltones and Dindin Manabat led the assault and dictated the tempo early on to lead the Tornadoes to their first win in this prestigious women’s club tournament bankrolled by Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
A fresh recruit from San Sebastian College, Soltones fired 10 of her 11 points off kills, while Manabat chipped in nine markers for the Tornadoes, who pounced hard on the Asset Managers’ erratic attacks and sluggish floor defense.
The Tornadoes had 40 kills while the Asset Managers had only 19.
Foton also finished with 31 digs while Cocolife had 24 despite the backline presence of Denden Lazaro, the former star libero of Ateneo de Manila who tallied seven receptions.
Foton now fashions a 1-1 win-loss mark after absorbing an opening-day loss to Cignal.
Foton head coach Moro Branislav said they took advantage of the rawness of Cocolife, a new team which was formed by former Ateneo and La Salle players with the core of reigning NCAA champion Arellano University serving as reinforcements.
“Cocolife is a new team. They have good players, but we are more experienced,” said Branislav, the Serbian guru who steered the Tornadoes to the Grand Prix title last year and a ticket to the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan in May.
Branislav said he is looking forward to their next match, which is against Generika-Ayala on Saturday, as it would dictate the tempo of this very short tournament that also has UCPB Gen as official insurance provider and Gold’s Gym as official fitness partner.
“Normally, I like to see how our next match, which is against Generika, would go. In my opinion, there are four teams which can make it to the semifinals; Cignal, Petron, Generika and Foton. If we can win over them on Saturday, that will be very interesting.”
Staring at a 0-2 set deficit, the Asset Managers showed some traces of life in the third set as Michele Gumabao and Andrea Marzan delivered a pair of kills to put Cocolife ahead, 6-5.
But that was the last kick by the Asset Managers as the Tornadoes, behind the hot smashes of Soltones and Manabat, took control for a 17-19 advantage en route to the victory that lasted for only 73 minutes.
Former La Salle star Wensh Tiu nailed in six points while Gumabao finished with five markers for the Asset Managers, who fell to 0-2 slate.
(Malolos Sports Complex)
3 pm – Cignal vs Sta. Lucia
5 pm – Foton vs Generika-Ayala
7 pm – Cocolife vs Petron