Air Force bombs Cignal, claims series opener
Mark Escarlote on Jul 04, 2016 06:24 PM
Philippine Air Force claims Game 1 of the Spikers' Turf Open Conference best-of-three Finals series against Cignal.
Skipper Jessie Lopez made Philippine Air Force’s assault look easy, dishing out perfect sets to give the Air Spikers’ hitters good looks to unleash their artillery and blemish the erstwhile perfect record of Cignal HD Spikers.
The Air Spikers exacted revenge against their elimination round tormentor with a 25-19, 250-16, 25-19 victory on Monday to draw first blood in the 2nd Spikers’ Turf Open Conference best-of-three Finals series at the PhilSports Arena.
Lopez, a former Far Eastern University star, had 37 excellent sets that Air Force turned into 41 vicious kills to stun the HD Spikers, who came into the game with a pristine 7-0 record.
Game 2 is on July 13 as the league takes a breather to give way to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for basketball hosted by the Philippines.
“Noong nag-usap kami, ang aga namin dito siguro mga 1:30 p.m. nandito na kami nag-usap-usap na kami. In fairness naman sa mga seniors ko at sa captain ball ko, ang sabi nila sa akin kanina sa dugout, “Coach huwag kang mag-alala iha-handle namin ang team sa loob at pagdating sa labas kapag timeout turuan mo na lang kami kung anong gagawin naming pero pagdating sa loob kami na ang bahala.” So nangyari naman kaya pasalamat din ako sa mga players,” said Air Force head coach Rhovyl Verayo, whose group absorbed a four-set loss to the HD Spikers in their elims meeting.
It is the second straight Finals series between the two teams after Cignal took the inaugural Reinforced Conference in three games.
New recruits Fauzi Ismail and Howard Mojica teamed up to lead the Air Spikers, raining down a combined 27 spikes.
Ismail of National University scored 21 points while NCAA Most Valuable Player Mojica of Emilio Aguinaldo College registered with 11 markers and eight excellent receptions.
Air Force got its game going midway in the opening set taking advantage of Cignal’s tentative movements inside the court to dictate the tempo early.
It was all Air Spikers’ the whole match with Cignal showing resistance in the opening stretch before eventually fading away.
Only Raymark Woo reached double-figure scoring for the HD Spikers with 13 points while Marasigan had an awful outing with only one point in three sets.
Meanwhile, Sta. Elena Construction inched closer to claiming a consolation third place trophy as the Wrecking Balls flattened Instituto Estetico Manila, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19, to open their best-of-three showdown.
The National University tandem of Peter Torres and Berlin Paglinawan led the Wrecking Balls with 20 points each while Arjay Onia had 15.
Greg Dolor and Jason Canlas finished with 15 each for the Phoenix Volley Masters.
In case the championship series is decided on July 13 and the battle for third gets tied at one game apiece, the team with the highest tiebreaker will be declared as the third placer.
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