FOTON started its bid for a back-to-back titles with a quick 25-18, 25-20, 25-15 victory over F2 Logistics on Saturday in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan.
American imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer did the damage for the Tornadoes. Usher had a game-high 20 points, anchored on 19 attacks, while reigning MVP Stalzer had an all-around game with 16 markers, built on 13 kills, seven digs and six excellent receptions.
Middle blocker Jaja Santiago chipped in nine points for Foton, which limited its errors to nine compared to F2 Logistics’ 17 miscues in a match that took two hours and 11 minutes.
But for Foton coach Moro Branislav was not satisfied with his wards ‘mediocre’ showing despite the easy win.
“This result 3-0 is okay but for my opinion, this is not the maximum for my team, for my opinion this is only 50-60 percent of my team,” said the Serbian mentor, who took over the team late September.
Santiago, though, believed their coach made the observation due to the difficulties on having a complete lineup in training.
“Kaya siguro niya nakikita na kulang pa kasi syempre iba pa rin ‘yung training pag buo kayo mas marami kayong nagagawa so tingin ko ‘yun ‘yung sinasabi niya na ‘di pa kami 100 percent,” said Santiago, as Foton only had 11 players and missed the services of University of Santo Tomas spikers Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure and libero Cara Acevedo.
“Siguro kasi nakikita niya incomplete kami, hindi pa kami talaga buo kasi minsan dumarating sa training nine lang kami,” she added.“Ganoon kasi ‘di ba ‘yung mga taga-UST wala pa and ang isang libero namin (may pasok pa), katulad ko rin may pasok pa so ‘yun siguro ang hinahanap pa ni coach para maging 100 percent kami.”
Branislav, who will also call the shots for the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship on October 18-23, noted that his main focus for now is the WCWC. But once he’s done with the international competition, he can give his full attention to the Tornadoes.
Along with Branislav are his wards Stalzer and Santiago who will also see action in the prestigious tournament against seven of the world’s best club teams.
“Now for your information my maximum work (for now) is the PSL Manila team and not big time (here in) Foton and it’s very difficult so my team is not yet ready for a maximum match,” he said.
“For my opinion after I finish PSL in the Women’s Club World Championship I can maximum concentrate on my team Foton,” he added.
Foton crawled back from a, 3-7, deficit in the third set before unleashing a 5-0 spurt to snatch the lead, 8-7, before it ballooned to five, 8-13.
The Tornadoes gave no chance to the Cargo Movers and sustained the momentum, 19-12, all the way to the finish.
For the first time after giving birth in July, Dindin Santiago-Manabat was also back on the playing court after she came off the bench late in the third set.
Sisters Jaja and Dindin were reunited on one team after they played together for National University in UAAP Season 75 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Tornadoes share the early lead with Petron, while F2 Logistics and Generika are at the lower half of the standings.
Aby Marano made 12 points for F2 Logistics.
Meanwhile, PSL will have a three-week break to give way to the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship on October 18-23 and will resume on November 3 after the Halloween.