Foton uncorked a strong finishing kick to complete a masterful 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20 conquest of Generika-Ayala in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Batangas City Sports Center.
Channon Thompson and Dindin Manabat delivered the crucial blows to spearhead the Tornadoes to this impressive win that gave them a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals of this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as broadcast partner.
Petron and F2 Logistics, who both fashion an 8-1 card, clinched the first two quarterfinal incentives, while Cocolife (5-3) was to formalize its claim pending the result of its match against Smart late Saturday in the other half of this explosive double-header that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
The Asset Managers and the Giga Hitters are still playing at press time.
A mid-conference replacement to American Brooke Kranda, Thompson flaunted her scoring prowess as she tallied 20 kills, six aces and a block for 27 points while Manabat chipped in 10 kills, three blocks and an ace for 14 points to star for the Tornadoes, who notched their fifth win in nine matches.
Also making her presence felt was Canadian import Elizabeth Wendel, who punched 12 hits, while Serbian Katarina Vukamanovic shone in the backline with 17 of the Tornadoes’ 47 excellent digs.
“This is a good win because we already have the twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals,” said Foton coach Rommel Abella, noting that their final placing will depend on the outcome of their final classification round match against F2 Logistics on Tuesday when the battle shifts back to Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
“We just don’t know whether we’ll end up No. 3 or 4. It all depends on the outcome of this match between Cocolife and Smart as well as our last game (in the classifications) against F2 Logistics.”
Pulling off an impressive win, however, didn’t come easy.
After cruising to easy victories in the first two sets, the Tornadoes found themselves in trouble as Darlene Ramdin and Symone Hayden discovered their groove before watching them fall into a maze of errors in the crucial stretch of the third set.
Ramdin, who played with Thompson in the Trinidad and Tobago national team, continued her inspired performance as the Lifesavers forged a 7-7 knot before the first technical timeout of the fourth set.
But after the 19-all count, Thompson and Manabat sparked a spiking spree to put the Tornadoes at match point, 24-19.
Although Manabat committed a service error in the ensuing play, Foton couldn’t be denied as Hayden’s attack went long for the final count.
“We simply relaxed in the third set,” said Abella, who is looking forward to another titanic battle with the Cargo Movers.
“As I was telling the team: We need a good start and a stronger finish. It’s good that we executed that ‘strong finish’ we’ve been trying to work on in training. We have to play like this if we want to stand a chance against a good team like F2 (Logistics).”
Ramdin delivered 21 hits while Hayden had 13 points for the Lifesavers, who will enter into their final game of the classifications with a 2-7 mark.