NATIONAL University try to take another step towards a second title, while suddenly streaking Far Eastern University looks to continue its surge when the V-League finals begin on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs and Lady Tamaraws clash at 4 p.m., in the opener of the best-of-three title series.
Towering sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago need to exert the extra effort and others have to step up with Aiko Urdas still out due to a knee injury she sustained in the semifinals against UST last week.
That leaves veteran setter Rubie de Leon one less option, but Carmina Aganon, Rizza Mandapat and Myla Pablo are also expected to deliver.
FEU coach Shaq de los Santos knows it will be a tough match, even with NU missing one key player.
“Ang NU kasi malalaki ang players, defending champion pa," he said. “Pero hindi naman kami papayag na basta-basta ganoon na lang.”
The series also opens with that rest versus rust argument, with National U getting more time off the court after disposing of the UST Tigresses in two matches and FEU needing to fight back from one match down to win the best-of-three semifinals against Adamson.
FEU got a big boost when they it tapped national team members Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga just before the quarterfinals. The Lady Tamaraws have come up with big games since then, although they slipped once in a five-setter against Adamson, and have booked their first appearance in the V-League finals in 11 seasons.
“Sobrang laki ng tulong ng dalawa naming guest players, kasi ang goal talaga namin kaya namin sila kinuha is maging leaders sila at madala nila ang mga bata sa loob ng court at kung paano mag handle ng pressure,” said De los Santos.
Aside from Gonzaga and Daquis, FEU also has a reliable scorer in Bernadette Pons, who has been delivering consistent numbers despite the arrival of the new guest players.
Bernadette Pons has also been delivering consistently, a force FEU can turn to in case there is conflict with the schedules of Gonzaga and Daquis, who also play for Army in the Super Liga.
“Titignan pa namin 'yung schedule, mag-aadjust na lang siguro kami, pero hindi naman magco-conflict ang schedule ng Army (PSL) at V-League,” said De los Santos, who is also part of the coaching staff of team Petron in the PSL.
UST and Adamson start their best-of-three series for third place at 2 p.m.
The Tigresses hope to save their campaign after two straight losses to NU, and Pam Lastimosa, rookie EJ Laure and Jessey de Leon hope to end the bleeding for the Espana-based side.
The Lady Falcons, meanwhile, hope to draw a big game from Thai reinforcement Pacharee Sangmuang.
Bhebs Pineda and Pau Soriano, who are both suiting up for Cagayan in the Superliga, and May Macatuno, who is lined up with AirAsia, will still play for Adamson.