MANILA -- The PetroGazz Angels and the PLDT High Speed Hitters face off for one last time in the PVL All-Filipino Conference on Thursday, to determine who will get the remaining spot in the Finals.
After winning Game 1 last Saturday, the Gazz Angels failed to close out the High Speed Hitters on Tuesday. PLDT recovered from a slow start to essay a 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 victory and force a do-or-die game.
Four players reached double-digits for PLDT, with Jovelyn Prado tallying 15 points, 11 digs, and 10 receptions. Veteran setter Rhea Dimaculangan earned Player of the Game honors after tossing 25 excellent sets, while libero Kath Arado also got plenty of credit thanks to her 26-dig, 12-reception game.
But PLDT coach Rald Ricafort does not believe that momentum is on their side, even after comprehensively out-playing the Gazz Angels in the last two sets of their game.
"Talagang sa game lang nagkakatalo, kung sino 'yung mas makaka-adjust, kung sino 'yung mas makaka-execute," he pointed out. "Thankful kami na kami naman 'yung uuwi na panalo ngayon. Pero ganoon pa rin -- pareho namang walang pahinga, parehong mapapagod."
"Hopefully, 'yung mindset namin, sharp pa rin sa Thursday. Doon na lang siguro talaga magkaka-talo-talo," he added.
Ricafort stressed the need for a fast start in the do-or-die affair. It took PetroGazz just 23 minutes to win the opening set last Tuesday, before the High Speed Hitters found their rhythm in Set 2 and took control from there.
On the other end, Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro expressed his confidence that they can recover.
"We know what to do, we have adjusted in terms in terms of totality of our character," he said. "I know my players will bounce back. I know they’ve accepted and acknowledged what happened. I just told them to take the next step again and move forward."
Already waiting in the Finals are the Creamline Cool Smashers, who swept F2 Logistics in Game 2 of their own series, also last Tuesday.
If PetroGazz wins on Thursday, it will be their fourth title series against the Cool Smashers. The Gazz Angels defeated Creamline in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference, but the Rebisco-backed franchise beat them in the 2021 and 2022 editions of the All-Filipino.
PLDT, meanwhile, is seeking a first Finals appearance since 2018.
First serve is at 5:00 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.