Game on Thursday:
(Filoil Flying V Centre)
7 pm – F2 Logistics vs Petron
PETRON seeks a fitting climax to its championship journey when it clashes with F2 Logistics in Game 2 of their Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) best-of-three finals series on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Action starts at 7 pm with the Blaze Spikers vowing to go for the kill and knock the crown off the Cargo Movers’ heads in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
After blowing hot and cold in the classification round, Petron made a drastic move when it replaced tried and tested import Hillary Hurley with Katherine Bell.
Bell, who spearheaded University of Texas to the NCAA title in 2012, made her presence felt as she posted impressive numbers to guide the Blaze Spikers to back-to-back wins over Cocolife in the semifinals of this tourney that also has Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, LGR and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
And in the finals late Tuesday, Bell proved that she’s worth the gamble.
The hard-hitting spiker erupted for 36 attacks, four aces and two blocks to finish with 42 points to power the Blaze Spikers to a thrilling 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 25-22, 15-9 conquest of the Cargo Movers in Game 1.
It was such an incredible feat as the Cargo Movers were in control in the first two sets before Bell conspired with Lindsay Stalzer, Remy Palma, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Rhea Dimaculangan to put the Blaze Spikers back in the match.
She was on a different level in the fifth set as she scored eight of Petron’s last nine markers that left Aby Marano, Cherry Nunag and other F2 Logistics’ defenders struggling for form.
“We know the quality of her game and tonight she showed that she’s up to the challenge,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, adding that it was Bell’s emphatic performance that kept them going down the stretch.
“She carried us in the fifth set. She pushed us. She didn’t quit. She led us to this victory.”
But history is not on the side of Petron.
Last year, the Blaze Spikers were also on the brink of winning the crown until the Cargo Movers made a brilliant adjustment of switching Kennedy Bryan back to her original position at the opposite while deploying veteran Cha Cruz at the open spiker spot.
The risk paid a handsome reward as the Cargo Movers clawed their way back from a huge deficit in Game 2 en route to winning Game 3 and clinching their first Grand Prix title.
“We already learned our lesson,” Delos Santos said. “We promised ourselves that we will give our best until it’s over. We’re just glad that we were given another opportunity to be in this situation and win the title.”
F2 Logistics head coach Arnold Laniog said the series is still far from over and they still have enough gas left to equalize the series.
“This is not yet over,” said Laniog, adding that they are working on improving their services to throw Bell and Stalzer out of their comfort zone.
“I can see it in the players’ eyes that they really want to defend our title. If we can come up with strong services and better reception and passing, then, we have a good chance of forging a Game 3 on Saturday.”