Charging into Game One and never looking, the Petron Blaze Spikers came within a game of reclaiming the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Cup title, dissecting the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in straight sets, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19, at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.
After settling for bronze in the last AFC, Petron took a step closer to taking F2 Logistics’ throne, which they last sat in 2015.
The Blaze Spikers took full advantage of F2 Logistics’ sluggish starts in the opening two frames. Petron grabbed an early 4-0 lead in the first set before F2 Logistics scrambled and forced an 11-all tie. Thanks to solid defense, the Blaze Spikers their early four-point advantage, 17-13, and successfully prevented any late F2 Logitics incursions.
By the second frame, F2 Logistics fell into a deeper lull as the Blaze Spikers rushed to an 11-4 lead and forced the Cargo Movers into uncharacteristic personal shuffling. Benching two starters, F2 Logistics managed to get within three points of Petron, 23-20. The Blaze Spikers, however, received a late off-the-bench spark from Cherry Rondina who powered in their last two points of the set.
Working through emotionally-charged veteran Aby Maraño, the Cargo Movers moved to a blazing start in the third frame. F2 Logistics took an 3-0 lead before Petron settled down and forced adjustments. The Blaze Spikers slowly melted the deficit and claimed their first lead of the set, 15-14. Petron’s valiant defense then keyed their finishing rally, tipping off quick transition chances that stymied the defending champs. Petron’s collegiate players Toni Basas and Cherry Rondina pushed the challengers to a 24-19 lead, setting up Aiza Maizo-Pontillas’ closing kill.
“I think, una, yung puso na gusto manalo [ang nagdala sa amin sa panalo]. Dito kasi ‘di na pinag-uusapan ‘yung skills. Kumbaga dito pinaguusapan yung willingness na manalo, ‘yung puso at talagang all out dapat. ‘Yun ‘yung naging key namin,” said Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos.
Petron skipper Ces Molina led all scorers with 11 points while Pons and Pontillas added eight apiece.
The Blaze Spikers can take the title in Game Two on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Kianna Dy towed F2 with 11 points while Des Cheng managed eight markers.
Petron (3) – Molina 11, Pons 8, Pontillas 8, Reyes 7, Palma 6, Rondina 5, Dimaculangan 3, Basas 1, Hingpit 1, Aganon 0, Pineda (L)
F2 Logistics (0) – Dy 11, Cheng 8, Maraño 6, Fajardo 4, Galang 3, Baron 2, Gallanero 2, Ogunsanya 2, Tiamzon 1, Cruz 0, Santos 0, Macandili (L)