Is Petron an underdog?

Tuesday, 12 Dec 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

While sideliners believe that the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix will boil down to who wants it more, coaches of various teams have different take.

They, for one, are putting more premium on chemistry and cohesiveness, giving F2 Logistics a very good chance of winning its first Grand Prix title over Petron.

The Cargo Movers are obviously the country’s most fluid squad.

Star players like Kim Fajardo, Kianna Dy, Aby Marano, Dawn Macandili and Majoy Baron all cut their teeth under the system of head coach Ramil de Jesus at De La Salle University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

Their imports – Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez – also managed to arrive early to make sure that their jelling won’t be compromised.

This vaunted teamwork as well as their firepower and trademark defense enabled the Cargo Movers to slice through the eliminations with a commanding 7-1 mark before blasting Iriga City in the quarterfinals and Cocolife in the semifinals in lopsided fashion.

Generika-Ayala head coach Francis Vicente said the Cargo Movers will be on a different level when they kick off their best-of-three finals showdown against the Blaze Spikers on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

“For me, it’s F2 Logistics.”

“This team gets stronger as the tournament progresses. They are prepared for the championship and their mindset is really great. I know their coach is very good as well. They have very good imports and you can see in their players that they really want to win.”

Vicente, the head coach of the national women’s team that campaigned in the Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games, noted that the battle at the backline would be very crucial.

Macandili, who was awarded as 2nd Best Libero in the Asian Seniors, will be stacked against a Japanese defender in Yuri Fukuda.

But the soft-spoken guru believes Macandili has an edge.

“Their (F2 Logistics) libero is very good. They are already a complete team ripe enough to win the crown.”

Cignal coach George Pascua strongly agrees.

“For me, it’s also F2 Logistics simply because of its chemistry.”

Full-tanked

Foton coach Moro Branislav believes that Petron has what it takes to finally regain the prestigious season-ending title.

Branislav and the Tornadoes dominated the Blaze Spikers in a thrilling finale last year.

Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher bannered the Tornadoes while Stephanie Niemer and Serena Warner spearheaded the Blaze Spikers.

But now, the tables had turned.

Stalzer crossed the enemy lines and joined Petron together with other former Foton stalwarts like Rhea Dimaculangan and Sisi Rondina.

The result was very impressive as the Blaze Spikers bombed the Tornadoes in the semifinals en route to their fourth straight finals appearance in the Grand Prix.

“I think Petron will win.”

But Cocolife head coach Kungfu Reyes had a different take.

Reyes, who was part of the coaching staff when Philippine Army erected a dynasty in the early stretch of the league, said it’s a fairly even match and the biggest winners are the fans and Philippine volleyball in general.

He said this year’s finals showdown is would be a battle of grit and adjustments with both de Jesus and Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos tipped to squeeze out the best out of their wards.

And when the smoke cleared, only the team who wants it more will be left standing.

“It’s going to be an evenly match battle this time.”

“Both teams have great imports, great locals so the biggest winner here would be the spectators. They will surely witness world-class volleyball entertainment.”

He added that the semifinals were a good preview on how things will unfold.

“Based on how F2 Logistics played in the semis, they showed superb volleyball prowess. On the other hand, Petron displayed its grit up to the final play.”

“All I can say is that this finals showdown will be good for the league, for the fans and for all those who love volleyball.”