CIGNAL was very sharp right on opening day of the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Conference.
Behind the trio of Gilbert Ablan, Howard Mojica, and Jay dela Cruz, the HD Spikers outclassed Systema in a thrilling fice-setter match, 25-14, 25-17, 17-25, 23-25, 15-13, on Friday at the Astrodome.
Ablan, a former San Beda standout, poured in 28 points, while Mojica out of Emilio Aguinaldo College added 16 and dela Cruz, the former NCAA MVP from University had 13 in the win that put Cignal right on top of the standings.
"Sobrang proud ako sa kanilang lahat, especially kay Ablan, sobra siya mag training, may extra workout siya lagi," said Cignal coach Michael Cariño.
But the 21-year NCAA alumni was quick to down play the praises made by his coach.
"Hindi lang naman ako ang nagdala ng team, tulung-tulong kami ng
teammates ko, lahat kami nag-contribute" he said.
Systema, surprise runner-up to PLDT last conference, avoided a sweep after dominating the third set behind AJ Pareja, Rocky Honrade and Chris Macasaet, and Al-Frazin Abdulwahab.
Former University of Santo Tomas stalwart John Depante took over in the fourth set, moving the Active Smashers at set point, 24-21, before his power hit won it for Systema, 25-23, to forge the deciding set.
Trailing by four, Systema inched its way at 12-13, before Ablan saved the day for Cignal after scoring on back-to-back spikes,
sandwiching a Depante off the block attack.
"Gusto lang kasi namin ipakita na hindi porke bata kami sa liga, eh papatalo na kami agad-agad," said Ablan. "Iniisip namin na lahat ng ini-ensayo namin mula February ibibigay na namin, all out na."
Depante came away with 18 points while Pareja added 13 and Macasaet 12 for Systema.