Since making their debut in the Invitational Cup, the Cocolife Asset Managers have kept trending up the PSL standings.
The Asset Managers clinched their first-ever spot in the semifinals after a surprising straight-sets win over the limping Cignal HD Spikers, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20, in the 2017 Chooks-to-Go PSL Grand Prix at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Cocolife proved the steadier team in a match that had several ties in the latter portions of each set. The Asset Managers pulled away late in the first set, turning an 18-all tie into a 23-19 advantage. The HD Spikers tried to make a comeback, but a clutch block from veteran Tina Salak clinched the set for the Asset Managers.
It was the same scenario in the second frame, as the Cocolife again broke away from a 19-all deadlock to earn a 24-20 lead. Cignal salvaged three straight points thanks to hard-hitting Royse Tubino, but fell in the end after a beautiful Cocolife reception turned into a powerful Taylor Milton smash to close the set.
Cignal were finally deterred in the third frame in the same fashion they had struggled throughout the conference. Locked at 20-all, Cignal winger Janine Marciano landed awkwardly after a spike attempt and had to be rushed out of the arena due to an apparent right knee injury. From there, Cocolife grabbed the win and won the next five points and a spot in the semis.
Cignal were already without aces Rachel Daquis (dengue) and Jovelyn Gonzaga (right knee sprain).
“Sobrang happy nga namin as a team kasi ito na nga ang best na narating ng Cocolife. Starting from seventh to fifth, ngayon nasa top four na,” reflected Cocolife head coach Kungfu Reyes.
“Mas inspired pa kami ngayon na ituloy lang ‘to regardless kung underdog kami sa semis. Lalaban at lalaban lang kami,” the ranked Army official added.
Tai Manu-Olevao topped Cocolife with 21 points, while Taylor Milton added 14.
Royse Tubino led Cignal with 13 markers. Marciano had 11 points before getting injured.
The Asset Managers will face top-seeded F2 Logistics in the knockout semis on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Cocolife (3) – Manu-Olevao 21, Milton 14, Bautista 7, Gumabao 5, Pabayo 4, Bunag 2, Salak 2, Tiu 1, Gonzales 0, Lazaron (L)
Cignal HD (0) – Tubino 13, Marciano 11, Matthews 8, Morada 6, Carey 5, Mercado 5, Macatuno 0, Saet 0, Vivas 0, Dionela (L)