After her record-breaking 56 points, all eyes will be on Gyselle Silva as Smart seeks to come up with a strong finish in the classification phase of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix today at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Giga Hitters will battle a red-hot Sta. Lucia Realty at 7 pm in a bid to snap their nine-game losing streak in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
Prior to that, Cignal faces Generika-Ayala in the first match at 4:15 pm to improve its own quarterfinal position in a battle that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
Reigning champion F2 Logistics gained the right to face eighth seed Smart after booking their ninth win in 10 games following an impressive 25-17, 25-18, 25-17 victory over Foton late Tuesday.
Petron, which prevailed over Cocolife in a five-set thriller, grabbed the second spot while the Asset Managers (6-4) and the Tornadoes (5-5) will occupy the third and fourth places armed with twice-to-beat incentives.
Smart is set to face F2 Logistics while Generika-Ayala will tangle with Petron in the next round starting this Saturday at the Gen. Trias Sports Center in Gen. Trias City in Cavite.
Cignal, which has a 3-6 win-loss card, still has a slight chance to improve its quarterfinal placing if it wins via straight sets over Generika-Ayala while hoping that Sta. Lucia (4-5) also suffers a straight sets loss to Smart in the other match of this blockbuster double-header.
But the spotlight would be on Silva.
The Cuban sensation shook Philippine volleyball when she erupted for 53 kills and three aces for an incredible 56 points in the Giga Hitters’ heart-stopping 23-25, 21-25, 29-27, 25-19, 14-16 loss to the Asset Managers over the weekend in Batangas City.
Her production was the highest ever in the country and third best in the world behind the 58 points of Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan in 2015 and the 57 points of Madison Kingdon of United States in 2017 and Elitsa Vasileva of Bulgaria in 2013.
Smart head coach Ronald Dulay said that despite posting this eye-popping offensive output, Silva is not yet done.
“Her main goal is to give us a victory,” said Dulay, adding that he wasn’t surprised with Silva’s explosive game since she’s been saying that she’s willing to score 50 points if that’s what it takes to give the Giga Hitters their first win.
“She’s very focused on training and actual games. So I’m not discounting the possibility that she can either match or surpass that impressive performance in our next few matches.”
Sta. Lucia is also coming off an impressive straight sets victory over erstwhile unbeaten Petron, giving it a boost in morale entering its final game of classifications.
“That win over Petron will be worthless if we will not work hard in our next game,” said Sta. Lucia coach George Pascua, who is expected to tap Marisa Field, Bohdana Anisova, MJ Philips, Micmic Laborte and Kristen Moncks to prevent Silva from doing damage.
“The job is not yet done. We have to go back to the drawing board and plot how to stop Smart and its very good import in our next game.”