TWO coaches believe Foton has the material to finally take the crown as it battles two-time champion Petron in the Super Liga finals.
Petron and Foton begin their best-of-three title series in the PSL Grand Prix on Thursday at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Coach Francis Vicente’s top-seeded Philips Gold squad was defeated by Foton in the semifinals, and the veteran mentor believes the Tornadoes would complete its rise to the top.
“I’ll go for Foton malaki ang chance nila, it’s a very balanced team,” said Vicente.
Vicente noted the Tornadoes are doing well because key players in setter Ivy Perez, 6-foot-4 rookie Jaja Santiago and imports Katie Messing and Lindsay Stalzer are in their top form.
“‘Yung setter nila nagpi-pick siya pati service niya. ‘Yung middle hits naman ni Jaja ang taas umatake, si Messing ang ganda ng palo niya pero si Stalzer pa rin ang magdadala sa team. ‘Yung libero magaling. Champion na kapag gumana ang depensa,” Vicente said.
RC Cola-Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo also picked Foton and also believes Stalzer will make the difference.
"Napakagandang laban nito. Pero I think Foton ang mas may advantage,” said Verayo.
“Mas cohesive at may experience ang Petron, pero ’wag natin kalimutan na may experience na din sa PSL yung Stalzer at mas malalaki ang mga blockers ng Foton. Kapag pumutok ang laro ng Stalzer at Jaja Santiago, medyo tagilid ang Petron dyan."
“Kailangan lang talagang ilabas ng Petron ang experience at maturity nila sa laro kasi siguradong mapapalaban sila sa Foton."
Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar says it’s an even matchup, noting Petron has the experience and Foton has advantages in net defense and the smart play of Fil-Jaimaican Kayla Tiangco-Williams.
The Blaze Spikers are looking to retain the crown and claim a third consecutive title following the All Filipino championship behind returning Brazilian setter Erika Adachi, the solid core of Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Aby Marano, Rachel Anne Daquis, Frances Molina, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano and skipper Maica Morada
Adding fire power for Petron is Adachi’s fellow Brazilian hitter Rupia Inck, who has been playing with Adachi for the past 10 years.
"Of course, hindi mananalo ang isang team kung puro lakas lang," said Acaylar, former coach of the Philippine team.
"Dapat nandun din ang psychological advantage, nadun din ang experience at maturity sa laro. They know how to handle themselves kapag nasa losing side sila they know how to compose themselves."
“Sa Foton naman, blocking area advantage nila, they have Jaja, they have two imports and one Fil-Am ‘yun ang edge nila,” said Acaylar.