CREAMLINE, which completed a record sweep of the elims without its two key players in the last three matches, tries to move closer to a grand feat with Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado back in the fold as the Cool Smashers face the Motolite side at the start of the PVL Open Conference semifinals on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Valdez and Morado cut their training camp with the Nationals in Japan to help anchor Creamline’s title retention drive in the season-ending conference, taking on a team whose top hitter continues to be hobbled by a foot injury that however failed to slow down the team’s Final Four drive following a failed semis bid in the Reinforced Conference.
The opener of the best-of-three series kicks off at 2 p.m. with No. 2 PetroGazz and third ranked BanKo-Perlas clashing in their side of the playoff at 4 p.m.
Michele Gumabao, who with Jema Galanza, Kyle Negrito, Risa Sato, Celine Domingo, Rosemarie Vargas and Pau Soriano took care of business in the absence of Valdez and Morado, has guaranteed a stronger, fiercer Creamline crew to show in the semis with the duo back in the roster.
“It’s only going to get better from here and we’re ready to welcome them back,” said Gumabao.
Motolite vowed to give its best shot to stop its powerhouse rival and fuel its own title drive, with Myla Pablo raring to go despite being far from top form after sustaining a foot injury that sidelined her from quite a number of matchesin the elims.
The former National U standout, however, has shown great improvement of late, tallying a pair of 14-point performance in the team’s last two outings with the likes of former UP stalwarts Isa Molde and Tots Carlos along with Aie Gannaban, Fenela Emnas, Genn Layug and Jessma Ramos also all going all out to buck overwhelming odds.
“I’ll give it my best shot even if I’m not 100 percent in shape,” said Pablo, a two-time league MVP.
While most give Creamline the edge over Motolite, the PetroGazz-BanKo Perlas duel is expected to go down-to-the-wire although the Angels will be motivated by their desire to go up against the fancied Cool Smashers again and gun for a sweep of the season’s titles.
Jonah Sabete and Jovielyn Prado hope to sustain the fiery form they flaunted in their last three games which they swept to secure the No. 2 seeding with Cherry Nunag, Paneng Mercado, Jeanette Panaga, Cai Baloaloa and setter Relea Saet ready to slug it out with the likes of BanKo veterans Dzi Gervacio and Sue Roces along with the power-hitting Nicole Tiamzon, block artist Kathy Bersola, Elle de Jesus and Jem Ferrer.