Petron is out to deliver the knockout blow and claim the crown when it collides with bitter rival F2 Logistics in Game 2 of their Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference best-of-three finals series today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Action starts at 7 p.m. with the Blaze Spikers looking to complete another historic sweep of this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Senoh, Mikasa, Asics, Mueller, Bizooku, Isuzu and UCPB Gen with Genius Sports as technical provider.
Also seeing action in this battle that also has ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as broadcast partners are Colegio San Agustin-Biñan and La Salle-Dasmariñas, who will collide at 4:15 p.m. in the Collegiate Grand Slam.
But all eyes will be on the main event.
After posting 10 straight wins in the preliminaries, the Blaze Spikers overcame Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals and Cignal in the semifinals in convincing fashions, sparking speculations that they are on their way to sweep the conference.
The first time the Blaze Spikers swept the All-Filipino Conference was in 2015 when superstars Dindin Manabat, Rachel Anne Daquis and Aby Maraño joined forces to take the country’s most competitive volleyball league by storm.
George Pascua, now of Sta. Lucia, was the head coach while current Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos was his chief deputy.
Despite moving three sets shy of completing the golden feat, Delos Santos still insists that making history is the last thing on their minds.
“While it’s inspiring to break our own record, I always tell my players that we should not forget our main goal which is to win back-to-back (All-Filipino) title,” said Delos Reyes, who is still wary of a furious F2 Logistics fightback.
“Knowing coach Ramil and his team, they will bounce back for sure. But on our part, we will double, triple or even quadruple our effort in Game 1 to win the title.”
Delos Santos knows that the Cargo Movers will not simply fade.
In the Grand Prix last year, the crown was within Petron’s reach after winning Game 1 and posting a 9-0 lead in the opening moments of Game 2 of their best-of-three series.
But De Jesus pulled off a shocker when he tweaked his lineup, pulling veteran spiker Cha Cruz from the bench in lieu of Kianna Dy while moving Kennedy Bryan back to her original position at the opposite spot.
The gamble paid off as the Cargo Movers won Games 2 and 3 to emerge victorious in probably the most thrilling and dramatic finals showdown in Philippine volleyball.
“That’s why we don’t want to be complacent,” said Delos Santos, who will bank on spikers Sisi Rondina, Bernadeth Pons and Frances Molina anew while blockers Remy Palma, Ging Balse and Mika Reyes take care of defending the net.
“It’s still a long way to go. We know F2 Logistics will not go down without putting up a fight.”
De Jesus, for his part, is tipped to lean on national team members Aby Maraño, Kim Fajardo, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili, Dy and Cruz while opposite Michelle Morente provide muscles on both ends.