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Tiebreaker Times


Abdilla, Lopez relish underdog role heading into Spikers’ Turf Finals

Cignal has been on a tear heading into the championship round of the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference, as it hasn’t dropped a single game yet.

Air Force star Ran Abdilla and team captain Jessie Lopez are well aware of the situation.

“Tama naman kami ‘yung underdog, pero kailangan namin bumawi doon sa nakaraang [conference] namin,” said Abdilla, right after the Jet Spikers booked their eighth Finals appearance at the expense of Sta. Elena-NU, Thursday.

Cignal posted an immaculate 5-0 win-loss slate to cap off the elimination round. The HD Spikers then ran over the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the Perpetual Altas in the quarterfinals and the semis, respectively, to stretch their unbeaten streak to seven games.

“Mahirap magsalita pero ngayon, parang sabihin natin na kami ‘yung underdog ngayon eh. Kasi sa nilalaro nila, naka-peak na sila eh,” said Lopez as Cignal dethroned Air Force in the Reinforced Conference last July.

“Hindi kami puwedeng mag-relax kasi alam natin na naka-momentum talaga sila e, nasa kanila yung momentum ngayong taon na ‘to.”

With their counterparts wreaking havoc all tournament long, Lopez and Abdilla agreed that there’s only one thing they can do to tame the HD Spikers.

“‘Pag naka-receive kami, sigurado makakadikit kami sa kanila. Pero ‘pag hindi, mahihirapan kami sa kanila kasi alam naman natin ‘yung Cignal, mabigat sila mag-serve. Service at receive talaga ang labanan, saka floor defense,” said Lopez.

“Isa lang naman talaga ang kailangan namin eh — ‘yung service receive namin. Once na gumana ‘yung service receive namin, panigurado dikit ang laban,” added Abdilla.

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Given that Cignal has a wide array of offensive arsenal led by Marck Espejo and Ysay Marasigan, Air Force’s 1-2 punch believes that they must tighten up their floor defense in order to defend their crown in the best-of-three Finals starting on Sunday.

“Sa ngayon kasi gusto namin na matalo sila,” said the two-time Spikers’ Turf MVP.

“Hindi namin sila inu-underestimate kasi ayun nga, isa sila sa pinakamalakas dito sa liga na ‘to. And of course siyempre, paghahandaan namin yung laban sa Sunday.”

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