Blaze Spikers face tough competition in title-retention bid

ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 19, 2020 08:48 AM
Blaze Spikers face tough competition in title-retention bid
The 2020 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix will open on Feb. 29.

With back-to-back defending champion Petron having undergone a major revamp, the 2020 Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix becomes a wide open race for the rest of the field.

"Opportunity na ngayon kasi lagi natin sinasabi noon na ang Petron ang team-to-beat," said F2 Logistics assistant coach Noel Orcullo on Tuesday during the the presss conference of the season-opening tournamet slated to kick off on February 29.

"So kami naman laging ganon ang mentality namin laging gusto namin makarating ng championship yun yung goal namin," added Orcullo, whose squad lost to the Blaze Spikers in the import-laden conference the past two conferences "Every team naman lahat dito. So big opportunity why not grab it."

Petron during the offseason parted ways with most of its key players and head coach Shaq delos Santos, which the other teams F2 Logistics, Cignal, Generika-Ayala, Chery Tiggo, Sta. Lucia, PLDT and Marinerang Pilipina see as a golden opportunity to vie for the much-coveted title.

For Chery (Foton) coach Aaron Velez, whose team is regarded as the new team-to-beat, they will have to work hard if they want to dethrone the Blaze Spikers.

“Our mentality is we wanna grab the elusive championship and we just have to train hard,” said Velez. “Who’s hungrier and more determined, I think, have the capacity to get that championship.” 

But new Blaze Spikers mentor Emil Lontoc remains defiant that Petron's winning tradition will continue under his watch.

"Laging nasa championship yung team. This time talaga we will try our best na mapabilang ulit doon," he said. "Syempre ang goal ng Petron pa rin ay masama sa championship pero ang sabi nga may total revamp pero naniniwala pa rin ako sa sistema na meron kami."

Petron will start its bid against Generika-Ayala in the season-opener at 5:00 p.m., followed by the match between PLDT and Sta. Lucia at 7:00 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

The teams will play in a double round robin elimination round, where the eight teams will be ranked for the knockout quarterfinals.

The No. 1 team will face the No. 8 team, while the second seed squad will be up against the seventh team, the No. 3 team will tangle with the No. 6 and the rank 4 team will face rank 5.

Winners of each quarterfinal pairings with the higher rank will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.

Three will be a bronze medal match and the gold medal match will be a best-of-three series.

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