MANILA -- Even after winning Game 1 of the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference finals, the Petro Gazz Angels believe they still face tall odds against the Creamline Cool Smashers.
Petro Gazz, buoyed by their indefatigable floor defense, pulled off an impressive 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 26-24 win on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena that gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 finals series.
Another win on Tuesday's Game 2 will give the Gazz Angels their first All-Filipino title in franchise history, but head coach Oliver Almadro warned that this will be far easier said than done.
"Hindi pa tapos 'yung series. So sabi nga nila, pinakamahirap to get the series," said Almadro, who is on the brink of winning a PVL championship in his first conference in charge of PetroGazz.
The Cool Smashers paid dearly for their 22 errors in the match and were undone by clutch hits from Jonah Sabete and Grethcel Soltones. They also struggled to convert their attacks with Soltones and Sabete also working overtime on defense.
The result marked the end of Creamline's 14-game winning streak against Petro Gazz, but they were hesitant to say that momentum is now on their side heading to Game 2.
"We have to be prepared, kasi they are a strong team. I'm telling you, they are the Goliath of this tournament," Almadro said of Creamline, who are the defending champions in the All-Filipino.
"Kami naman, we just asked the Lord na, can we be the David of the tournament. So 'yun lang naman ang hinahanap namin. So, pagbigyan kami, strong character, right attitude and teamwork," he added.
Though they are armed with a 1-0 lead in the series, Almadro said that he feels the finals is "still even" and stressed that they are bracing for the Cool Smashers' fightback. He pointed to Creamline's intact roster, most of whom have been playing for the Rebisco franchise for several conferences now.
Almadro is also well aware of the Cool Smashers' maturity and experience at the big stage, developed over years of finals appearances. Creamline is the most successful team in the PVL, with five titles since 2018.
"Sabi ko nga, they are the Goliath. Sila 'yung pinakamalakas, pinakamalaki, pinakasikat," he said. "Napu-push nila kami, so that great team will just push us forward. So we will still work hard and pray to God, and ask for strength and wisdom all the time."
The Gazz Angels are seeking their second straight PVL championship after winning last season's Reinforced Conference in December.