F2 Logistics, Army face tough challenge in knockout semis
F2 Logistics faces an uphill battle against Petron in the knockout semifinals.
Underdogs F2 Logistics and RC Cola-Army brace for a tough battle in the knockout semifinals on Saturday against their respective rivals that they have yet to beat in the 2016 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix.
The reigning All-Filipino Conference title-holder Cargo Movers occupied the no. 3 spot to face second seed Petron while the Lady Troopers face the top seed defending champion Foton Tornadoes in the other Final Four showdown to be held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City, Albay.
F2 Logistics booted out Cignal, 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-10, in the semis seat playoff last Sunday behind American reinforcements Sydney Kemper and Hayley Spelman.
But in the semis, the Cargo Movers will have to find a way to hurdle prolific scorer Americans Stephanie Niemer and Serena Warner of Petron. F2 Logistics closed the elimination round with a 7-3 record with two of its losses coming at the hands of the Tri-Activ Spikers.
“Actually hindi pa kami nananalo sa Petron baka sa Albay pa lang kami manalo roon kung saka-sakali, kasi yun talaga ang target naming,” said Cargo Movers coach Ramil de Jesus, whose squad is scheduled to arrive in Albay’s capital Friday. “Hopefully maganda ang laruin ng mga bata.”
In their two prelims meetings, Petron punished F2 Logistics with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-19, win in the first round before another straight sets conquest, 25-22, 25-19, 25-10, last Nov. 10 where Niemer uncorked nine service aces.
“Iwo-work out namin yun (service reception),” he said. “’Yung ganoong mga serve naman kung hindi ka nakapuwesto talagang mawawala eh.”
Aby Marano, Cha Cruz, Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, setter Kim Fajardo and All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player libero Dawn Mcandili will need to step up their game to hurdle the only team they have yet to defeat.
Former three-time champion RC Cola-Army, which knocked out Generika, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19, in the playoff, shares the same dilemma.
The Lady Troopers surrendered in straight sets to Foton, 23-25, 19-25, 21-25, in their first match and fell short in a painful 20-25, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21, 7-15, five-set decision in the second round.
Assistant coach Rico De Guzman said that Foton’s height advantage is an imposing challenge.
“Malaki ang problema talaga namin sa Foton kasi malalaki. Bawat ikot, rotation is malaki ang blocker nila,” he said. “Ang solosyon namin dyan ni coach Kungfu (Reyes) ay pabilisin ang footwork. Sa speed kami babawi.”
RC Cola-Army will need to devise a plan to stop 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, who head coach Moro Brnislav rotates as utility, 6-foot-2 Dindin Santiago-Manabat and American imports Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher.
Mainstays Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, evergreen setter Tina Salak and Rachel Anne Daquis need to step up to help imports Kierra Holst and Hailie Ripley.
“Hindi puwedeng sa imports lang namin ibigay, kailangan ng tulong ng local namin. Kailangan mag-step up lahat ng locals namin,” he said.
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