Air Asia, Petron seek S'Liga semis

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 13 2014 08:16 AM | Updated as of Jul 13 2014 04:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The beautiful stars of the game – Dindin Santiago and Michelle Gumabao – are expected to sparkle when Petron and AirAsia take on separate foes in the quarterfinals of the 2014 PLDT Home-Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference volleyball tournament today at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The third-seeded Blaze Spikers tackle No. 6 PLDT at 3 p.m. while the fourth-seeded Flying Spikers collide with No. 5 Cagayan Valley at 5 p.m., looking to coast to the semifinals of the women’s division of this premier inter-club tournament supported by PLDT Home DSL and backed by Mikasa, Asics, Mueller Tapes, Jinling Sports Equipment, LGR, Bench and Healthway Medical.

The survivor between Petron and PLDT will take on No. 2 RC Cola Air Force while the winner in the AirAsia-Cagayan Valley showdown will face top team Generika Army in the do-or-die semifinals next week.

Pacesetter PLDT Air Force, meanwhile, stakes its immaculate slate against cellar-dweller Via Mare at 7 p.m. as action in the second round of the men’s division heats up in this competition organized by Sports Core with Solar Sports as official broadcast partner.

Meanwhile, organizing Sportscore will hold a two-day VIS Clinic next weekend at St. Giles Hotel, Makati, with Gianni Cerillo, an accredited FIVB VIS lecturer, as main speaker.

“Mr. Cerillo will give us advanced training through the technical development program of the PSL to strengthen and build the capabilities of our teams, coaches and players with the use of computer-backed information technology – a trend being applied by international teams, clubs and federations,” said PSL and Sportscore president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.

Participants are PSL head coaches, team statisticians and other coaches pre-selected by Sportscore and the PSL.

After opening their campaign with three straight victories, the Blaze Spikers ran out of gas as RC Cola Air Force and AirAsia dealt them setbacks that hurt their chances of claiming one of the two outright semifinal berths.

In those twin losses, the 6-foot-2 Santiago played far from her numbers with an average of 17 points, way below her 30-point outputs in their previous wins.

But in their 25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 25-19 conquest of Cignal last week, Santiago recovered with a sterling 24-point effort, enough for Petron coach George Pascua to express optimism her performance would peak in the crucial stages of the tournament.

“With the way she performed, I’m giving her a seven,” said Pascua. “She had some inconsistencies but she’s already getting there. She just needs a little more training and conditioning to regain her power and playing condition. But I like her overall performance. It was a good sign.”

Like Santiago, the equally lovely Gumabao is displaying recovery after staying away from volleyball for the past two months to attend to her budding career in show business.