After hammering an emotional come-from-behind victory, Foton would go for the kill and shoot for the title as it clashes with Petron in Game 2 of the Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix presented by PLDT Home Ultera best-of-three finals showdown today at the Philsports Arena.
Action starts at 5 pm with the Tornadoes gunning for their second straight crown in this import-flavored conference bankrolled by Mueller, Mikasa, Senoh and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Powered by reigning Most Valuable Player Lindsay Stalzer, Foton bravely crawled back from a two-set deficit to eke out a dramatic 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-9 victory over Petron in Game 1 of this finals series that is also sponsored by Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, F2 Logistics and Petron.
Foton started out slow until Stalzer took matters into her own hands and towed the Tornadoes to a deciding set, much to the delight of a large weekday crowd that trooped to the venue just to witness the country’s best volleyball players in action.
But the Tri-Activ Spikers quickly asserted themselves and established an 8-3 lead midway into the fifth set. A crucial block touch call, however, crushed Petron’s momentum, allowing the Tornadoes to storm back and score nine consecutive points to make it 12-8 and step on the brink of completing a gigantic triumph.
Petron questioned the call and placed the game under protest.
The PSL technical committee, headed by competitions director Anna Tomas, is still deliberating as of press time.
Foton coach Moro Branislav said Petron played great volleyball, but breaks simply didn’t bounce its way.
“Petron is a very good team and my team didn’t start good,” said the 59-year old Serbian mentor, adding that he’s a little bit worried about the condition of his star opposite, Jaja Santiago, who sustained a sprained ankle in the second set of the dramatic series opener.
Santiago, however, still managed to return to finish the marathon match that lasted for two hours and 19 minutes.
“For my opinion, it is very important for Jaja Santiago to play in our next match. This is an important match for Foton and for Petron. Game 2 will again be very dramatic. All I can say is may the best team wins.”
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos admitted that the call in the fifth set sparked their collapse. However, they have already lodged a protest and he’s keeping his wards focused on emerging victorious in Game 2 to keep their title hopes alive.
“We already filed a complaint letter and I hope it will yield a positive result,” he said. “But we can’t dwell on it. We have to move on since we only have a day to prepare for Game 2. We have to come up with a mindset that it’s not yet over.”
Stephanie Niemer, who erupted for 32 points built around 26 kills, four aces and two blocks, will again be the focal point of Petron’s offense, but still hoping that the support crew of Serena Warner, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Frances Molina would all step up and help her carry the load.