Santiago returns with a bang, Foton torches RC Cola-Army
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 20, 2016 03:16 PM
Jaja Santiago delivered 30 points in her return to power Foton past RC Cola-Army.
(Gen. Trias Sports Center)
4:00 p.m. –-- Cignal vs Foton
6:00 p.m. –-- F2 Logistics vs RC Cola-Army
Jaja Santiago announced her return from a three-game layoff as she dropped 30 points to steer Foton to a nail-biting 25-20, 20-25, 29-27, 21-25, 15-7 victory over RC Cola-Army in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Displaying her rare blend of height and athleticism, Santiago torched the Lady Troopers from start to finish to steer the Tornadoes to the hard-earned victory.
In the other match, Generika finally snapped its string of misfortune as it crushed Cignal, 25-15, 25-20, 25-22, to cop its first win of the conference.
With the win, the Lifesavers (1-9) gained a handsome chance of copping the fifth spot in the playoffs pending the result of the last assignments of the HD Spikers (1-7) against reigning champion Foton on Tuesday and RC Cola-Army on Thursday.
Based on the tournament format, the top two finishers in the double-round preliminaries would occupy the two automatic semifinal slots while the third seed would face no. 6 and the fourth seed would clash with no. 5 in sudden-death playoffs.
The winner between the third seed and no. 6 would clash with no. 2 while the survivor between the fourth seed and no. 5 would square off with no. 1 in another do-or-die semifinal showdown set on Dec. 3 at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City in Albay.
Generika coach Francis Vicente said now that they posted such a morale-boosting victory, they would train hard to pull off an earth-shaking upset of the heavyweights in the playoffs and, possibly, in the semifinals and the finals.
“I’m confident. We will not give up now that we’ve already won a game,” said Vicente, the University of the East head coach who nearly brought Philips Gold to the finals of this battle last year.
“We have a goal and we need to achieve it no matter what it takes.”
But the day belonged to the Tornadoes.
Stacked against the veteran RC Cola-Army side, Foton banked on its steady services and solid reception to withstand the Lady Troopers’ furious rally in the deciding set.
Santiago, who is now looking comfortable playing as an opposite spiker, fired 22 kills, five blocks and three aces to finish with 30 points while import Lindsay Stalzer delivered 19 kills and three blocks for 25 markers.
It was the Tornadoes’ seventh win as they approach their last two games of the preliminaries against Cignal and rival Petron in a rematch of last year’s finals.
“This is such a good win for us,” said Foton coach Moro Branislav of Serbia, saying that they wanted a strong performance after absorbing a four-set loss to F2 Logistics last Tuesday. “Although we’re glad with the win, our focus is the playoffs because anything can happen there. I’m just glad with how the team responded after our previous lost.”
Former United States juniors national team member Kierra Holst tallied 24 points while Jovelyn Gonzaga and Honey Royse Tubino added 17 and 15 hits for the Lady Troopers, who absorbed their fifth loss in eight games.