IT was a heartbreaking semifinals meltdown that ended Petron’s two-year reign in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference but head coach Shaq Delos Santos has nothing to be ashamed of his team as all good things come to an end.
“Masakit, sobrang sakit ng nangyari. Hindi rin namin inexpect 'yun ang mangyayari pero ganun talaga eh,” said Delos Santos after absorbing another five-set loss to Cignal that shattered their ‘three-peat’ dream.
“We need to accept na not all the time lagi kaming nasa taas or lahat ng gusto namin masusunod,” he added.
After squandering its twice-to-beat advantage last Tuesday in Muntinlupa City, it was Petron’s turn to comeback and erase a two-set deficit, but it was not enough to stop the eagerness of Cignal, 28-30, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 8-15, on Thursday’s do-or-die semis at the Arena in San Juan City.
This is the first time that the Blaze Spikers won’t be in the All-Filipino Finals since 2016 as Cignal prevented a seventh straight F2 Logistics-Petron Finale.
But Delos Santos expressed his gratitude to his wards bannered by Ces Molina, Sisi Rondina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Bernadeth Pons, Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan,l and Denden Lazaro for their efforts this conference.
“Hindi namin kailangan mahiya kasi sobrang proud ako sa team namin, sobrang lumaban kami hanggang dulo and I think para sa kanila [Cignal] 'yung game,” he said. “Sobra namin kayong pinagmamalaki and part ng journey namin kumbaga sabi namin na kailangan mas maging matured pa 'yung team and maging solid pa.”
The Blaze Spikers won 11 straight games for a conference-best 13-1 win-loss record before eliminating Marinerang Pilipina but the No.5 HD Spikers, who lost a pair of five setters in the preliminaries, beat them in the matches that mattered most.
Delos Santos couldn’t deny that the HD Spikers were the more eager team that’s why he was gracious in defeat and just wished Cignal head coach Edgar Barroga good luck as they battle F2 Logistics in a best-of-three Finals on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Yung eagerness din nung Cignal sobrang ganda rin ng naging performance nila sa four-times namin na game never silang nag-give up talaga,” Delos Santos said. “Kami ganun din siyempre kami grabe 'yung effort talaga na ginagawa namin para i-beat sila pero ganun talaga.”
“Talagang nakita namin 'yung gutom nila na kunin talaga 'yung laro as in napakaganda ng naging performance nila. Hindi mo sila basta makukuhaan ng puntos 'pag nagpabaya ka talaga, talagang all out sila,” he added.
The conference is not yet over for Petron as it has a chance to ease the pain in the battle for bronze against Foton also on Saturday.