FOTON beat Petron, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-14, to wrap up the No. 1 spot at the end of elimination round of the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan on Thursday.
Skipper Lindsay Stalzer led the way for Foton with 25 points and eight excellent receptions, while Jaja Santiago finished with 21. Ariel Usher played through a pulled hamstring and ended up with 14 markers and 10 digs. Still, Foton coach Moro Branislav remained unimpressed even as his team clinched the top spot.
“At this period we are number one but at this moment my team is not yet ready (for semifinals),” he said.
The 59-year old Serbian mentor is also concerned of his two University of Santo Tomas hitters Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure, who have been missing their games lately due to class, while Santiago sisters Dindin and Jaja are still struggling when switched to other positions.
In the past games, Jaja and Dindin, natural middle blockers, are being converted to opposite spiker or outside hitter.
“You see two players (Sisi and EJ) are not in maximum (top shape) and there’s a little problem for Ariel she has an injury and Dindin and Jaja are not yet ready for their position,” said Branislav.
Foton outscored Petron in attacks (56-39) as Tornadoes setter Rhea Dimaculangan choreographed a better offense compared to AC Masangcay (27-12 excellent sets).
American import Stephanie Niemer led Petron with 27 points, scattered from 22 kills, five of the team’s eight blocks and all of the team’s three service aces.
Defending champion Foton (9-1) and its victim Petron in last year's finals (8-2) are both already secured of the top two spots in the semifinals.