FOTON fields an almost complete lineup as it welcomes back Jaja Santiago in time for its crucial clash with RC Cola-Army in the Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The Tornadoes hope to improve their chances for the top spot of the semifinals when they face the Lady Troopers at 3 p.m., following the battle between struggling teams Generika and Cignal in the 12:30 p.m. opening salvo of this weekend double-header of the tournament presented by PLDT Home Ultera and sponsored Mikasa, Mueller, Grand Sport and Senoh with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Toting a 6-1 win-loss card, the Tornadoes are looking to sweep their last three games to overtake Petron and claim the top spot in the semifinals of this prestigious competition that also has Focus Athletics, KLab Cyscorpions, Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics as sponsors.
The first match will be shown live on TV5, AksyonTV, Hyper and Sports5.ph while the second match can be seen on Hyper and Sports5.ph.
Save for EJ Laure who remains doubtful, Foton would be marching with a complete roster as it welcomes the return of Jaja Santiago following a 12-day training in Japan together with National University.
In its previous game, the Tornadoes sorely missed Santiago’s presence as F2 Logistics dominated them with a 25-15, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24 victory at the Imus City Sports Complex in Cavite.
Aby Marano, who suited up for the Tornadoes in the AVC Asian Women’s Club World Championship last September, terrorized the net with conference-high eight blocks for 16 points while Hayley Spelman, Ara Galang and Cha Cruz had a field day in the attack zone, finishing with 23, 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
“Jaja’s return would be such a big boost to Foton. So we have to prepare ourselves and be ready,” said RC Cola-Army coach Kungfu Reyes.
But Reyes added that his wards are all pumped out to dominate the Tornadoes after the Lady Troopers finally rediscovered their rhythm as they clobbered Cignal in straight sets also last Tuesday, 25-13, 25-15, 25-10.
“That’s the Army team I used to know,” Reyes said. “While I’m glad that we’re gaining back our groove, we still have to work hard because the next few games will be very crucial.”
Reyes said skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga is ready to do battle as well as Rachel Anne Daquis, Honey Royse Tubino and Tina Salak. At the same time, their imports in Hailey Ripley and Kierra Holst are already getting used to the fast-paced Asian brand of volleyball.
Right now, Petron is sitting on top with an 8-1 win-loss mark following a masterful straight set conquest of Cignal late Thursday, 25-18, 25-10, 25-17. But there could be a complete reversal of fortune as the Tri-Activ Spikers and the Tornadoes would clash in the final day of the preliminaries on Thursday next week, a battle that sideliners believe could be the preview of the finals.
The top two teams after the double-round preliminaries would automatically advance to the semifinals while the third seed would face the sixth seed and the fourth seed would battle the fifth seed in the sudden-death playoffs, making the last few games very crucial for all teams.
The survivors in the playoffs would face Petron and Foton in the semis that would be held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City on Dec. 3.
F2 Logistics 6-3
RC Cola-Army 3-4
Games on Saturday:
12:30 pm – Generika vs Cignal
3:00 pm – RC Cola-Army vs Foton