Cignal begins title defense against rival Air Force
Cignal and Philippine Air Force begin their showdown for the crown.
Reigning champion Cignal begins its title defense against the same team they defeated last year to annex the crown on Wednesday in the 2nd Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference best-of-three Finals Game 1 at the PhilSports Arena in San Juan.
The HD Spikers will face for the third straight finals their toughest rival Philippine Air Force, which dealt Cignal a four-set loss in the elimination round.
Game time is at 3:00 p.m. and will air at 4:00 p.m. via streaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/spikersturf and 8:00 p.m. on S+A channel 23.
Cignal behind top hitters former Ateneo de Manila star Ysay Marasigan and Raymark Woo of La Salle completed a clean sweep of the semifinals with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-20, win over Champion Supra Spikers in Game 2 last Monday.
Head coach Macky Carino will rely on Marasigan and Woo, who averaged 13 and 11.5 points per game, respectively, during the Final Four to carry Cignal, which took the conference title last year by overhauling a 0-1 series deficit against the stunned Jet Spikers. Providing support are former National University stars Peter Torres and setter Vince Mangulabnan, Herschel Ramos, Lorenzo Capate Jr. and Bonjomar Castel for the HD Spikers, who will carry the momentum of a five-game winning streak.
But out to spoil Cignal’s attempt for a back-to-back conference crowns are the Jet Spikers, who also swept Instituto Estetico Manila to advance to their third straight championship appearance.
Air Force booted out the Phoenix Volley Masters for a Finals berth also last Monday with a 23-25, 25-16, 25-12, 25-17, victory.
The Jet Spikers are looking to duplicate their 16-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, win over the HD Spikers in the elimination round almost a month ago with the help of powerful hitters in Mark Alfafara, Bryan Bagunas, two-time NCAA Most Valuable Player Howard Mojica and multi-titled setter Jessie Lopez.
Air Force and Cignal are tied 1-1 in their Finals head-to-head.
After the HD Spikers captured last year’s conference title, the Jet Spikers had their revenge in the Open Conference four months ago by sweeping Cignal in the Finals.
Meanwhile, Champion Supra and IEM’s best-of-three battle for third unfolds at 1:00 p.m.
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