HD Spikers, Jet Spikers forge title showdown
Mark Escarlote on Jun 08, 2017 04:19 PM
Cignal hitter Ysay Marasigan attacks the defense of Sta. Elena's Evan Raymundo.
Philippine Air Force and Cignal rekindled their championship rivalry after completing their respective semifinals series comebacks Thursday in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference men’s division at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Jet Spikers pulled off a dramatic come-from behind, 24-26, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-9, win against Philippine Army in Game 3 of their best-of-three series to set up a Finals showdown with archrival Cignal, which defeated Sta. Elena, 27-25, 24-26, 25-16, 26-24, in the other Final Four decider.
National University standout Bryan Bagunas dropped 25 points with 23 coming off kills to lead Air Force while Ismail Fauzi and Kim Malabunga scored 18 and 12 markers, respectively.
The Jet Spikers are back in the Finals, a best-of-three affair starting Saturday, looking to clinch their third straight title after dominating the Open and Reinforced Conferences of the Spikers’ Turf last year – all at the expense of the HD Spikers. Cignal won their Reinforced Conference championship series in the 2015 Spikers’ Turf.
Lemuel Arbasto scored 19 points while Romnick Rico had 16 for the Troopers.
The HD Spikers, meanwhile, survived the gritty Wrecking Balls behind the offensive explosions of Peter Torres, Lorenzo Capate, Edmar Bonono and Ysay Marasigan.
Capate and Torres scored 12 points each while skipper Marasigan and Bonono finished with 11 and 10 markers, respectively, to tow Cignal in the Finals against a rival that holds a 2-1 championship edge in their head-to-head.
“I’m so happy because this is my first time to be in the Finals of a commercial league. It’s my first time to handle a commercial team,” said Cignal coach Oliver Almadro. “Lagi naman silang nagpa-Finals ng Air Force, talagang we really need to prepare a lot. Alam naman natin ang firepower (ng Air Force) with matching veterans and strength ng Air Force because of the NU players.”
Sta. Elena threatened to force a deciding frame after reaching set point, 24-23. But an error by Wrecking Balls hitter Edward Camposano tied the frame at 24.
Mark Alfafara put Cignal back on top with a crosscourt kill that penetrated Sta. Elena’s defensive wall before Mark Enciso surrendered the match with his attack that went straight to the net.
Camposano had 19 points, Kul Rosete finished with 16 while Berlin Paglinawan had 10 markers for the Wrecking Balls.
Sta. Elena and Army will battle in a best-of-three series for third place also starting Saturday.
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