DEFENDING champion Petron eliminated Cignal, 25-20, 26-24, 20-25, 25-13, in their knockout semifinal on Thursday night in the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan.
The win enabled the Blaze Spikers to arrange a title showdown with Foton, which earlier subdued Philips Golds in the other do-or-die semis, 25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 20-25, 15-8.
Brazilian import Rupia Inck made 20 points while Rachel Anne Daquis and Dindin Santiago-Manabat added 14 and 12 markers, respectively, as Petron stayed on course for a third consecutive title that will match Philippine Army’s record in the three year-old league.
“Gusto naming mag-grand slam kaya pinipilit namin na ma-achieve ‘yun,” said Petron coach George Pascua.
But the veteran mentor was quick to add that the road to hat-trick is far from easy because of the high-caliber field in this tournament.
“Ito na (ang pinaka mahirap na conference) kasi lahat ng teams unpredictable kasi balanced lahat depende na lang sa desire ng bawat team ‘yun na manalo kasi hindi mo pwedeng sabihin ito mahina, ito malakas,” he said.
The best-of-three finals starts on Thursday.
Pascua believes that their championship experience is their biggest advantage over first-time finalist Foton.
“Good team ang Foton pero experience-wise medyo angat kami doon kasi veterans na itong mga players ko and kasi first time nilang umano (makarating) ng finals. Hopefully magamit namin ang advantage namin sa kanila,” he said.
American reinforcements Amanda Anderson and Ariel Usher finished with 20 and 18 points, respectively, for Cignal, which will face Philips Gold in the classification match for third on Saturday.