Rivals Petron and Foton kick off their best-of-three finals showdown today (Thursday) for the Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) presented by PLDT Home Ultera today at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
A huge weekday crowd is expected to show up in their 7 pm battle as both the Tri-Activ Spikers and the Tornadoes vowed to go all out to win Game 1 of this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Senoh, Mikasa, Mueller and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Prior to that, F2 Logistics and RC Cola-Army tangle at 5 pm in an equally-important match where the bronze medal in this tourney that also has Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics as sponsors is at stake.
Action will be shown live over at AksyonTV and Hyper and will be livestreamed in Sports5.ph.
Foton, which knocked the crown off Petron’s head in an emotional finals battle last year, breezed through the preliminaries with 9-1 win-loss card, before pulling off a heart-stopping 23-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15, 15-7 come-from-behind victory over RC Cola-Army in the semifinals at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City over the weekend.
The Tornadoes also prevailed over the Tri-Activ Spikers twice in the preliminaries, giving them the momentum and a slight advantage in what looms to be a tough battle two of the best club teams in the country today.
“We’d like to maintain just a little bit of groundedness, confident but not cocky,” said import Lindsay Stalzer, who is looking to steer the Tornadoes anew in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan next year.
“Playing Petron this year is very different than last year. They have a strong team now than last year, so I’m pretty confident that we know how to beat them. We beat them twice already so we’re going to use it to our advantage.”
Stalzer’s statement did not sit well with the Tri-Activ Spikers.
Petron import Stephanie Niemer, who erupted for 38 points in their first encounter with Foton before torching F2 Logistics for 37 points in the semifinals, said that although they will be coming in as the underdogs, the Tornadoes should not count them out just easy as they are capable of pulling off massive upsets.
She said they are working on a special game plan that would take away the presence of 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago and 6-foot-2 Dindin Manabat at the frontcourt while shutting down Stalzer and Ariel Usher at the firing end.
“I think we are the underdogs because we already lost twice. However, it’s hard to beat a team three times so it will work to our advantage,” Niemer said, admitting that Stalzer and the rest of the Tornadoes’ confidence is slowly getting under their skin.
“From the way I perceive it, Foton right now is extremely confident, slash arrogant, playing us. So I’m hoping it will come and bite them in the butt because I think they are kind of overlooking us right not.”
Niemer added that her support crew of Serena Warner, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina and defense specialists Jen Reyes and Bang Pineda will all be ready as well as head coach Shaq Delos Santos, who is figuring out how to overcome Serbian coach Moro Branislav.
“I think our edge over Foton is that we have a lot of heart,” she said.
“We’re not the tallest team, I didn’t say that we’re the most talented, but I would like to think that we’re the most driven and bigger heart and I think that’s going to carry us through.”