Semifinalist Petron tries to solidify its grip on the lead when it clashes with struggling Cignal in the Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix presented by PLDT Home Ultera today (Thursday) at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Action starts at 7 p.m. with the Tri-Activ Spikers looking for an important win to secure the top spot in the semifinals of this prestigious tournament bankrolled by Mikasa, Mueller, Grand Sport and Senoh with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
In the 5 p.m. appetizer of this battle that also has Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics as sponsors, rampaging F2 Logistics is out to sustain its momentum as it battles Generika, which remains searching for its first victory.
After posting seven wins in eight games, the Tri-Activ Spikers are already assured of one of the two semifinals slot. But they still can’t take their last two games for granted as the Tornadoes, who have a 6-1 win-loss card, are breathing down their necks, eager to capture the top spot in the Final Four.
Based on the official tournament format, the two semifinalists in Petron and Foton, would face the survivors in the playoffs where the third seed will clash with the sixth seed and the fourth seed will battle the fifth seed.
The do-or-die semifinals are set on December 3 at the Ibalong Center for Recreation in Legazpi City in the province of Albay.
Still fresh from a 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-16 victory over Generika late Tuesday at the Imus City Sports Complex, Petron is heavily favored to pounce on the depleted Cignal side as American spiker Stephanie Niemer and veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas continue to display their impressive form.
Niemer finished with 23 kills and three aces for 27 points while Maizo-Pontillas chipped in 12 markers for the Tri-Activ Spikers, who moving closer to its goal of winning the crown and representing the country in the AVC Asian Women’s Club World Championship in Kazakhstan.
“We still can’t relax,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos. “We’re eyeing a good position in the semifinals so we have to win our last two games in the preliminaries. Anything can still happen.”
Cignal, on the other hand, continues to struggle following a sorry 13-25, 15-25, 10-25 setback to RC Cola-Army.
Puerto Rico’s skipper in the Rio Olympics, Lynda Morales, is still out after crashing with a foot injury last week, which makes life difficult for the HD Spikers on the defensive end as they are forced to rely on hitters Laura Schaudt, Janine Marciano and Stephanie Mercado to man the net.
In fact, the HD Spikers didn’t tally a single block in 33 attempts that led to a lopsided win for RC Cola-Army.
“Cignal is coming off a bad loss. I know they are eager to get back,” said Delos Santos. “Actually, all teams here are putting their best foot forward since we are entering the crucial stretch of the tournament. We expect tighter finish starting today.”
Also expected to draw another good weekday crowd is the encounter between F2 Logistics and Generika.
The Cargo Movers are coming from a morale-boosting four-set conquest of Foton and another win over Generika would boost their chances to capture the third seed in the playoffs.
“Our big win over Foton will be worthless if we will not win over our last two opponents,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus. “We still have a lot of work to do.”