Foton survives near meltdown to beat top seed Philips Gold, secures finals berth in Super Liga
The Foton Tornadoes celebrate after their thrilling five-set win over Philips Gold to advance in the finals of the Philippine Superliga. Dante Peralta

FOTON advanced to the finals of the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix after a thrilling 25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 20-25, 15-8 win over top seed Philips Gold in their knockout semifinals outing Thursday night at The Arena in San Juan.

Former Bradley University stalwart Lindsay Stalzer led the way for the Tornadoes with 29 points, including seven in the fifth set, while rookie Jaja Santiago added 15 iand Katie Messing chipped in 13.

“We wanted this game so bad and we were never doubtful that we weren’t going to win. We were just so confident the whole game and we showed it up on the court,” said the 6-foot-1 Stalzer, who played for Cignal last year.

"She knows the game here in the Philippines," said Foton coach Villet Ponce-de Leon. "She is a seasoned player. She is my captain inside the court and she knows the game very well. That's why we never hesitated to go to her when the going was getting tough."

After losing the third and fourth sets, the Tornadoes regained composure in the fifth and took a commanding 6-1 lead behind Slatzer.

Foton became careless as Philips Gold inched closer, 7-10, but the Tornadoes countered with a 6-2 run to pull away, 13-6, en route to clinching the first ticket to the finals.

The Tornadoes will face the winner between Petron and Cignal, in the other semis pairing.

For Stalzer though, she’s been eyeing to meet the defending champion Blaze Spikers in the title series since  Petron is the only team that beat them twice in the double-round elimination and likewise, it’s also the same team that defeated Cignal in the semis last year.

“Well, for some reason all along I’ve been expecting to play Petron. They won last year, they’re a solid team and they’re the only team we haven’t beaten yet so it would be nice to have a chance with them and show who’s the rightful owners of the title, It’s revenge time,” said Stalzer.

Bojana Todorovic finished with 31 points for Philips Gold, while Alexis Olgard had 19, and Myla Pablo registered 10.

The Lady Slammers will play in the classification match for third against the loser of the Petron-Cignal match on Saturday.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada