DEFENDING champion Cignal and last year's runner up Philippine Air Force moved a step closer to a title rematch after they defeated their respective foes in Game One of the best-of-three Final Four series in the 2nd Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Saturday.
The HD Spikers escaped Champion Supra, 26-28, 25-18, 17-25, 25-22, 16-14, while the top seed Jet Spikers defeated Instituto Estetico Manila, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17.
The rivalry between the two powerhouse teams continue to heat up as Cignal and Air Force gun for a finals faceoff for the third consecutive season. The HD Spikers ruled last year’s tournament but the Jet Spikers exacted revenge in the Open Conference.
Former San Beda ace Lorenzo Capate Jr. came with 19 points, while former Ateneo de Manila star Ysay Marasigan added 15 oints, La Salle top hitter Raymark Woo, who came off the bench, scored 13 points and National University alum Peter Torres had 11 markers.
Joven Camaganakan's 25 points went down the drain as Champion Supra's three-game winning run was put to an end. Berlin Paglinawan and Arjay Onia had 14 and 13 markers, respectively, for the Spikers.
Meanwhile, Howard Mojica led Air Force with 21 points.
NU star Bryan Bagunas added 16 points, while Rodolfo Labrador and Reyson Fuentes got 12 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Jet Spikers.
Kheeno Franco and JP Torres scored 19 and 10 points apiece for IEM.
Game 2 is on Monday and, if needed, Game 3 is on Wednesday.