F2 Logistics and Foton clash for a highly-crucial Game One win when the best-of-three title series of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference women’s volleyball tournament starts on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The much-anticipated battle between two of the country's top volleyball clubs begin at 6 p.m following the sudden-death battle for 3rd place between RC Cola-Army and Petron in the 4 p.m. curtain-raiser.
Considered pre-tournament heavyweights for parading the nucleus of UAAP champ La Salle, the Cargo Movers started out strong in winning all of their games in the first round followed by emphatic victories over RC Cola-Army and Petron in the second round.
Unfortunately, they fell prey to Foton in the final game of the preliminaries, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 19-25, before bouncing back with a mighty straight-set victory over Petron in the semifinals.
F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus said despite winning the UAAP crown, his wards remain hungry as they haven’t won anything outside the collegiate league.
In fact, since competing in this semi-pro league, the squad coached by de Jesus has always come up short. They finished 4th as AirAsia in the 2014 All Filipino Conference, 1strunner-up as Generika in the 2014 Grand Prix and 1st runner-up as Shopinas in the 2015 All-Filipino Conference.
In the Grand Prix last year, de Jesus fielded the new cast of Lady Spikers featuring the core of Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Cyd Demecillo, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili carrying the banner of Meralco. But they also bombed out of contention, emerging with a lowly 5th place finish.
“We’re more focused and concentrated because we haven’t tasted any title outside the UAAP and other collegiate leagues. I hope this will be it. We’re hungry to win,” de Jesus said.
On the other hand, Foton has been plowing through the competition like a runaway train.
After starting out slow, the Tornadoes took the second round by storm as they clobbered the top teams in dominant fashion, prompting sideliners to pick them as heavy favorites to win this series.
Skyscraper Jaja Santiago, Angeli Araneta and Maika Ortiz remain a force to be reckoned with in the middle while spikers EJ Laure, Cherry Rondina and Patty Orendain have blended well with seasoned playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said Foton coach Villet Ponce-de Leon, who will also call the shots for the Tornadoes in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Binan City from Sept. 3 to 11.
“I just hope we can sustain the momentum and carry it to the finals. F2 Logistics is such a young and dangerous team. We have to deliver our best effort to overcome them,” she added.
De Jesus said that it’s going to be an exciting series with the hungrier, more matured team between them going all the way to win the crown.
“I think it all boils down to maturity,” said de Jesus, who will also bank on the veteran leadership of Aby Marano, Cha Cruz and Paneng Mercado. “Whoever is more matured and will be able to adjust quickly after Game 1 will definitely be favored. This is going to be a very exciting series.”