DEFENDING champion Petron gave Cignal a dose of its own medicine as the Blaze Spikers pulled off a vengeful 25-16, 14-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13 victory in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan on Tuesday.
Brazilian import Rupia Inck Furtado took charge for Petron with 26 points, anchored on 21 kills, while Dindin Santiago-Manabat added 18 as the Blaze Spikers put an end to Cignal’s five-game winning run.
Petron, which now carries a 4-2 (win-loss) record for the third spot, had a rough start in the conference after Cignal rose from two sets down and defeated the star-studded team, 18-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-18, 16-14.
“Ito ang turning point namin, naka-bounce back kami, na-boost ang morale ng team kasi natalo kami noong opening,” said Petron coach George Pascua.
“Dito sa second round nag-usap kami na hindi na pwedeng maulit na matalo kami kasi kapag ganoon tinatanggap mo na lang na talo ka lagi,” he added.
Cignal appeared ready to close out the match after a 5-0 spurt gave it a 13-10 lead in the deciding set behind the hard-hitting American reinforcement Ariel usher.
Pascua called for time and instructed his wards to focus on defense, specifically on their blocks on Usher.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila na mag-focus sa blocking kasi isa lang naman ang iba-block nila, si Usher lang naman,” said the veteran mentor.
The Blaze Spikers heeded his call as Brazilian imports Inck and setter Erica Adachi delivered the goods to reach match point while Usher’s hit that went long handed Petron the win in a match that lasted almost two hours.
“Doon na-test ang experience namin sa fifth set,” said Pascua. “Hindi gaya ng dati (sa talo namin sa Cignal), ngayon nakita ang maturity ng team isa ‘yun sa factor kaya kami nanalo.”
“Gigil sila kanina i-block si Usher pero na-manage naman namin,” he added.
Pascua commended their opponents especially America imports Usher and Amanda Anderson.
“Ang possible weakness ng Cignal siguro angat lang ang locals namin pero ‘yung imports nila matatalino, may variation nila sa palo samantalang ang import namin pag nag-error nara-rattle na,” he said.
Usher had 26 points while Anderson came up with 20 markers for the HD Spikers, who remained in the lead despite dropping to 5-1 - half a game ahead of Philips Gold.