MANILA, Philippines – Two powerhouse squads will battle for supremacy when Petron and F2 Logistics kick off their best-of-3 finals series in the Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Game 1 is set at 7 p.m., following the bronze medal match between Cocolife and Foton scheduled for 4:15 p.m.
The Blaze Spikers and the Cargo Movers rolled through the elimination round, finishing with identical 7-1 slates before crushing their respective foes in the quarterfinals. They then emerged victorious in the semis to book a finals duel for the second time this year.
Petron had to go through the wringer before hacking out a 30-28, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21 to dethrone defending champion Foton in the semis, while F2 Logistics barreled past Cocolife, 25-17, 25-16, 25-17, in their own Final 4 match-up.
This marks the fourth straight year that Petron has advanced to the finals of the Grand Prix, while F2 Logistics is making its first appearance in the championship round of the season-ending conference since joining the league last year.
Petron coach Shaq delos Santos stressed that the Blaze Spikers are hungry to regain the crown that they last won in 2014, when they were bannered by American import Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian playmaker Erica Adachi.
"We know that for the past two years, we were always being beaten by Foton for the title," said Delos Santos. "That's why winning the title this time means a lot to us."
"We are very hungry, and we will do everything to win it," he vowed. "It's no longer a question of roster, imports, or any other factors; it's now a question of heart and desire."
Petron is also searching for payback of sorts, as their lone loss of the elimination round came against F2 Logistics. The Cargo Movers trounced the Blaze Spikers earlier in the conference, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 19-25.
"That loss served as an eye-opener," said Delos Santos, who acknowledged that they had no answer for the power of F2 Logistics imports Maria Jose Perez and Kennedy Bryan in their first encounter.
"F2 was just in its first match, and we had no idea how strong they were," he added. "At least it helped us realize that we're still a work in progress, and we still have to learn as the tournament progresses."
The Cargo Movers are similarly hungry for success in the best-of-3 series, as a victory over Petron in the championship round will give head coach Ramil de Jesus a trophy that is missing from his collection.
De Jesus has won 10 UAAP titles with De La Salle University, as well as the PSL All-Filipino Conference. However, he has yet to win in the PSL Grand Prix.
"We want to experience how it feels to win the Grand Prix," said De Jesus, who will bank on Kim Fajardo, Majoy Baron, Aby Marano and Dawn Macandili against the rock-solid core of Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and imports Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer.
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