Petron, F2 Logistics forge sixth straight Finals showdown
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 25, 2019 09:28 PM
American import Steph Niemer of Petron broke the defense of Cignal Erica Wilson and Cherry Vivas of Cignal.
Repeat-seeking Petron and archrival F2 Logistics booked their sixth straight championship showdown after sweeping their respective best-of-three Final Four series on Thursday in the 2019 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Blaze Spikers punched a return flight to the Finals as it dominated Cignal, 23-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21, while the Cargo Movers dismantled PLDT Home Fibr, 26-24, 26-24, 25-17, to forge another explosive championship clash in the import-laden conference.
American import Stephanie Niemer erupted for 26 kills, five aces and four blocks for 35 points while Katherine Bell delivered 18 markers for Petron, which drew impressive numbers from local players like Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan and Denden Lazaro.
Reyes, the national team mainstay, had seven markers while Dimaculangan finished with 26 excellent sets and Lazaro tallied 14 digs and eight receptions for the Blaze Spikers.
Despite posting an impressive win, Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos still expressed respect to the HD Spikers, who kissed the title hopes goodbye.
“Ako isa sa masasabi ko grabe ang eagerness ng Cignal para talunin kami. Grabe yung willingness nila na maipanalo ang game. Kitang-kita namin sa galaw nila,” said Delos Santos, who is two wins away from sweeping the tournament they first achieved in the All-Filipino Conference in 2015.
“Kami naman napakabagal ng start namin. Actually, yung second set mabagal pa rin kami medyo nag-struggle kami. Good thing na-guide kami ni Lord. Thank you kay Lord kasi ibinigay niya ulit sa amin itong Finals.”
Petron will face in the best-of-three Finals starting Tuesday a familiar foe in F2 Logistics. The Blaze Spikers lead their Finals head-to-head, 3-2.
Venezuelan import MJ Perez and American Lindsay Stalzer led the way for the Cargo Movers with 16 points each while Ara Galang and Majoy Baron scored eight markers each.
The match got a little testy as Power Hitters coach Roger Gorayeb bawled out at an official for a ball call midway in the third set where he booked a yellow and red card that forced him to sit at the penalty box behind their bench.
Gorayeb complained for a non-call on an apparent lifting violation on Stalzer with PLDT trailing, 12-13. The Cargo Movers exploited the situation to finish off the distracted Power Hitters with a 12-5 closing rally.
The fiery mentor confronted the referee after the game before he was led by his coaching staff and players back to their dugout.
Imports Erica Wilson and Ana Artemeva, meanwhile, notched 24 and 18 points, respectively, for Cignal, which was relegated to the battle for third place against PLDT. Skipper Rachel Anne Daquis also had an impressive performance with 12 points but was not enough to save the HD Spikers.
Grace Lazard and Kendra Dahlke posted 16 and 14 markers, respectively, for PLDT while Aiko Urdas had nine.