Billed as possibly the tightest match of the 2017 Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, the Petron Blaze Spikers denied the Foton Tornadoes a historic three-peat, claiming the last Finals seat 30-28, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Right from the first set, Petron showed their mettle. Trailing 14-18 at one point in the opening frame, the Blaze Spikers slowly worked their way back into the set and forced a deuce. Down 27-28, Petron leaned on their imports Lindsay Stlazer and Hillary Hurley to dig them out of the hole and claim the early win.
Foton fought back in the second frame, re-establishing a 19-14 advantage and never looking back. With a set apiece, both squads battled in two incredibly close sets. Locked at 19-all, Petron pulled away in the latter stages and grabbed a 24-22 lead and setup Hurley’s set clinching hit. The Blaze Spikers then surged ahead, 19-14, through a 6-1 run to put the fourth frame out of reach.
Stalzer finished with a game-high 25 points while Hurley contributed 24 off 21 attacks, two blocks, and an ace.
“Laging maganda ‘yung laban, sobrang thankful talaga kami kasi nung last year na first time ko nag-coach ng Grand Prix, sila rin yung kalaban namin sa finals and hindi kami nanalo sa kanila,” thought Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Kung baga sa amin, parang napakalaking achievement ngayon na nag-knockout game kami and kami yung nanalo.
“Talagang yung team ng Foton, talagang competitive. Talagang strong team sila. Sobrang ang lalaki. Parang sa amin kailangan namin ng mahabang pasensya. Tyagain namin every point na gagawin namin,” he added.
The Blaze Spikers face the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in a best-of-three series, a rematch of the All-Filipino Conference Finals.
Jaja Santiago led the Tornadoes with 23 points while Serbian Sara Klisura added 22.
Foton can salvage third in a knockout match with Cocolife also on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Petron (3) – Stalzer 25, Hurley 24, Molina 5, Pontillas 5, Reyes 5, Palma 4, Dimaculangan 2, Meneses 2, Hingpit 0, Fukuda (L)
Foton (1) – Santiago 23, Klisura 22, Perunicic 13, Ortiz 8, Rosario 4, Laure 3, Perez 3, De Leon 0, Manabat 0, Vukomanovic (L)
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