PLDT, Petron survive cliffhanger battles

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 10, 2019 11:50 PM
PLDT, Petron survive cliffhanger battles
Sisi Rondina erupted for 32 points to lead Petron to a five-set win over Foton in Cagayan de Oro City.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Fans inside the jampacked Corpus Christi Gym here were treated to a night of thrill and excitement as Petron and PLDT Home Fibr carved out amazing five-setter victories in the 2019 Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference on Saturday.

Sisi Rondina delivered a performance to remember after dropping 32 points in the defending champion Blaze Spikers’ 25-23, 24-26, 24-26, 25-22, 19-17, win over Foton to lock the no. 1 seeding in the quarterfinals.

The 5-foot-6 hotshot towered over the giants of the Tornadoes to fill up the stats sheet with 27 attacks, a game-high four kill blocks and an ace laced with 20 digs and 10 excellent receptions for Petron’s 11th straight win to end preliminary round.

The Blaze Spikers closed the round with a 13-1 record at the top spot.

“Grabe! Grabe! Bilib ako sa puso ng team. Ramdam na namin yung pagod nila pero siyempre sabi ko nga sa kanila wag maggigive up,” said Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Talagang grabe sila (Foton). Grabeng effort yung ginawa nila at yung eagerness nila na talunin kami.”        

Foton controlled the fifth set early before Petron stepped on the gas to engage the Tornadoes in a mad dash to the finish. Rondina made amends on an earlier error with an off the block kill to put Petron at match point before Bernadeth Pons sealed the deal with a cross-court hit.

Skipper Ces Molina and Mika Reyes finished with 13 points each while Pons had 12 markers all coming off attacks for Petron, which will take on Marinerang Pilipina in the knockout quarterfinals.

Dindin Santiago-Manabat led Foton, which fell to 7-6 card tied with Cignal, with 31 points anchored on 28 kills and three kill blocks. Jaja Santiago had 26 markers while Elaine Kasilag had 11 for the Tornadoes.

Meanwhile, Jerrili Malabanan and Grethcel Soltones rose to the occasion as PLDT Home Fibr shocked powerhouse F2 Logistics, 25-21, 26-28, 15-25, 25-19, 15-11, in the curtain-raiser.

Down 1-2 in the match as the Cargo Movers dominated them in the resumption of the third set, the duo of Malabanan and Soltones lifted the Power Hitters to force a decider, where both squads fought toe-to-toe lasting for three hours and 31 minutes due to air-conditioning malfunction.

Tied at nine in the fifth set, Malabanan scored three of the team’s four straight points to reach match point, 14-10, before Kalei Mau saved a point.

But Soltones soared to close out the match and sent F2 Logistics to its second straight defeat.

Malabanan and Soltones finished with 21 points apiece with the San Sebastian College standout also putting up 24 digs and 19 excellent receptions.

PLDT finished the preliminary with a 6-9 win-loss card, locked in at No.6.

Game officials decided to temporarily stop the match with F2 Logistics holding an 8-7 lead in the third frame.

It took almost an hour for the venue to reach a cool temperature before referees resumed the game with the Cargo Movers blazing hot dominating the third set for a 2-1 match advantage.

But the Power Hitters caught fire in the last two sets also drawing a great game from setter Jasmine Nabor, who had 31 excellent sets on top of six points, as well as Aiko Urdas adding 10 markers.

Mau erupted with 28 points including 19 digs and 10 excellent receptions while Ara Galang and Majoy Baron had 19 and 18 points, respectively, for the Cargo Movers, who suffered their second straight setback.

Aby Marano added 12 markers while Kim Fajardo returned to action from a fracture finger last conference with 15 excellent sets as F2 Logistics slid to No. 2 with an 11-2 card.

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