Hunger will be a major factor when Petron and F2 Logistics kick off their Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three title series today at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Game 1 is set at 7 pm following the bronze medal match between Cocolife and Foton in the 4:15 pm first match of this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.
After slicing through the eliminations with a commanding 7-1 win-loss card, both the Blaze Spikers and Cargo Movers crushed their respective foes in the quarterfinals before emerging victorious in the semifinals to book a finals duel for the second time this year.
Petron went through the wringer before pulling off a 30-28, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory over defending champion Foton while F2 Logistics creamed Cocolife, 25-17, 25-16, 25-17, in the semifinals of this league that also Gerflor and Gold’s Gym as technical sponsors and ESPN5 as broadcast partner over the weekend at Mall of Asia Arena.
This will be the fourth consecutive time for the Blaze Spikers to advance to the finals of the season-ending conference while the Cargo Movers are in quest of their first Grand Prix crown since joining the league last year.
Although they won the prestigious title in 2014 with American sweetheart Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian playmaker Erica Adachi at the helm, Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos stressed that they are very hungry to regain the crown.
“We know that for the past two years, we’re always being beaten by Foton for the title,” said Delos Santos, who was part of George Pascua’s coaching staff when the Blaze Spikers ruled the Grand Prix three years ago.
“That’s why winning the title this time means a lot to us. We are very hungry and we will do everything to win it. It’s no longer a question of roster, imports or any other factors; it’s now a question of heart and desire.”
Delos Santos noted that they suffered a crushing four-set loss to the Cargo Movers in their lone encounter this conference, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 19-25.
In that match held at the University of St. La Salle Gym in Bacolod City, F2 Logistics was still a mystery as it was making its debut after missing the league’s first two weeks due to the University Games in Dumaguete City.
“That loss served as eye-opener,” said Delos Santos, adding that they had no answer to the power of imports Maria Jose Perez and Kennedy Bryan during their first encounter.
“F2 (Logistics) was just in its first match and we had no idea how strong it is. At least it helped us realize that we’re still a work in progress and we still have to learn as the tournament progresses.”
But Petron is not the only team looking to satisfy its thirst for crown.
F2 Logistics head coach Ramil de Jesus had already conquered the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) after winning 10 titles with De La Salle University as well as the PSL All-Filipino Conference after reigning supreme last year.
The Grand Prix, however, is a different story.
“We want to experience how it feels winning the Grand Prix,” said de Jesus, who will bank Kim Fajardo, Majoy Baron, Aby Marano and Dawn Macandili against the rock-solid core of Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and imports Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer.