THE semifinalists in the Super Liga get a one-week break before they begin battle for spots in the Grad Prix title showdown.
The best-of-three battles start on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan, with Petron taking on Cocolife at 4:15 p.m. and titleholder F2 Logistics battling Foton at 6 p.m.
The Cargo Movers and the Blaze Spikers are marching into the semis with slight advantages.
After clashing in a memorable finals showdown last year, both F2 Logistics and Petron shut down their classification round campaign on top with 9-1 win-loss marks.
In the quarterfinals, the Cargo Movers dominated Smart, while Petron clobbered Generika-Ayala.
Foton has new players in Diana Mae Carlos and Isa Molde, while its new import in Channon Thompson is starting to develop chemistry with mainstays Dindin Manabat, CJ Rosario, Maika Ortiz, Gyselle Sy and Canadian reinforcement Elizabeth Wendel.
There’s also a good chance for former MVP Jaja Santiago to suit up pending the outcome of the Final Four battle between National University and La Salle in the UAAP.
“Although we want her team (NU) to make it all the way to the UAAP finals, having Jaja back in the team will still be a big boost to us,” said Foton head coach Rommel Abella following a straight sets victory over Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals.
Abella added that F2 Logistics is such a strong team and the semifinals would no longer be a match of talent or strategy but of desire and character.
“We should want it more than them,” he said. “F2 Logistics is very strong and disciplined team. But of course, it still has some lapses. And we should be ready to pounce on those lapses.”
Cocolife is also serious in making its first finals appearance.
Head coach Moro Branislav said new import Marta Drpa is already getting familiar with the Filipino brand of game as she and players like Royse Tubino, Tina Salak, Denden Lazaro and fellow Serbian Sara Klisura try to lift the team.
In their previous match against Cignal, Drpa displayed versatility as she delivered 11 digs and four blocks on top of 15 kills to finish with 19 points to tow the Asset Managers to the semifinals.
“She is coming along very well. I’m sure she will be ready for the semifinals contra Petron,” said Branislav, admitting that the Blaze Spikers have the most fluid roster in the tournament.
“Petron is the best team this season. I must admit that. But it still lost a match. It still has some flaws. We have to put our best foot forward to expose those flaws and convert it to a victory in the semifinals.”