If this was a prized boxing match, the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers were connecting heavy blows early on against the Petron Blaze Spikers. They were able to take advantage of the holes in the Blaze Spikers’ defense while moving as one to mount a 19-11 lead in the first set. But they seem rattled when Petron established a 5-0 to trim the lead to two, 19-16. Coach Ramil de Jesus pressed for time to neutralize Petron’s momentum but his players seem shocked from the blows that their opponents unleashed.
The Blaze Spikers kept on throwing the punches while F2 Logistics is stuck at the ropes. Supersub Cherry Ann Rondina tied the count at 21 with a spike that glances through an F2 blocker. The Cargo Movers fought valiantly to salvage the set but they were still shook by the quick turn of events. Petron did win that set by riding their game plan until it became successful. But part of the victory can be attributed to F2’s collapse. A team with championship experience will find ways to douse a fire when it breaks. That’s why a meltdown of this proportion is uncharacteristic for the defending PSL Invitational champions.
Petron stealing the first set served as the knockout blow in Game 1 of the PSL All Filipino Conference 2018 Finals. The Cargo Movers were not the same team since while the Blaze Spikers took their intensity up a notch thanks to the leadership of Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, and Remy Palma. F2 Logistics suddenly had problems fielding the first ball in the second set which sent their offense out of sync. Flashes of brilliance from Ara Galang, Michelle Morente, and Aduke Ogunsanya were not enough as their on-court movement suddenly looked disjointed.
F2 Logistics committed 27 errors by playing out of sync. That’s an average of nine turnovers per set which is more than one-third of the required 25 to win. Petron’s confidence only grew with every mistake their opponents committed. No wonder the wards of Coach Shaq delos Santos got a 38-21 edge in attack points courtesy of Rhea Dimaculangan’s efficient setting. The Blaze Spikers also had 79 excellent digs which frustrated the Cargo Movers for they suddenly cannot find the gaps in Petron’s defense.
No lead is safe against a talent-laden team like Petron. If the Cargo Movers want to force a third game in this championship series, they must play to win come Game Two. They played not to lose after their huge lead instead of keeping their intensity even if Petron was staging a comeback. But before hitting the court on Tuesday, they must erase the memory of the game that slipped away and start with a clean slate.