PETRON and F2 Logistics begin the title showdown on Tuesday in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos said they are drawing motivation from their heartbreaking setback last year where they suffered a massive meltdown after taking the series lead, surrendering the Grand Prix title to F2 Logistics.
“We will do everything to prepare for our finals rematch with F2 Logistics,” said Delos Santos after beating Cocolife in the semifinals.
“F2 is a very talented team. It is a strong and aggressive team. The big challenge for us is what happened last year when we lost to them in the finals. This is a new opportunity and we’re accepting this challenge to, hopefully, win the title.”
The Cargo Movers are now without La Salle standouts Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, Desiree Cheng and Dawn Macandili, while Ramil de Jesus also chose to focus on the Lady Spikers’s UAAP title defense.
For the Blaze Spikers, a major piece in their championship bid in American import Hillary Hurley is gone due to a recurring ankle injury.
Still, Delos Santos likes their chances, especially with an all-around player in Katherine Bell and veteran Lindsay Stalzer, Japanese libero Yuri Fukuda, Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Remy Palma.
“I like our chances this year,” he said. “Compared to last year, the chemistry and communication of the team have improved. Personally, I’m excited to start this finals series.”
F2 Logistics coach Arnold Laniog said they are ready for whatever Petron will throw at them and they are eyeing no less than the title.
“The mindset of the players is to defend the title,” he said, as he leans anew on Most Valuable Player MJ Perez, Kennedy Bryan, Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, Cha Cruz.
“I’m telling the players that they are the reigning champions and everybody is looking to beat them. So they have to show up prepared and ready to win because their pride as defending champions is at stake.”