By: Ohmer Bautista
Overcoming a shaky first set to open their 2019 PSL All Filipino Conference campaign, the Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy warded off the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in four sets, 17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21, Tuesday evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The debuting Tornadoes struggled to find their footing in the early goings. Meanwhile, the Lady Realtors fired on all cylinders to erect a 23-10 lead in the first set – courtesy of a backrow bomb from MJ Phillips.
Following a lethargic opening set, however, Foton woke up and kicked their offense into gear. The troika of Elaine Kasilag, Jaja Santiago, and Dindin Santiago-Manabat secured the next two sets in dominant fashion.
A tight affair then ensued in the fourth frame. With both teams refusing to rest on their laurels, the game went to a stalemate at 20. Kasilag then took the scoring load, hammering three huge spikes in a 5-1 closing run to ice the game.
“Binigyan ko lang siya ng role. Inembrace niya yung trabaho,” Foton head coach Aaron Velez said of Kasilag, who led all scorers with 20 points, to go along 14 excellent digs.
“Yun ang gusto ko kay Elaine kasi meron siyang kakayanan and sa tingin ko it’s about time for her also to be exposed yung bata kasi talagang masipag sa training,” he added.
Dindin added 16 markers, while Jaja had 11, two of which came from blocks.
Though Foton had a rousing start to their campaign, Velez pointed out the areas where his team has to improve as the season progresses.
“Kailangan pa namin mag-todo trabaho… Marami pa kaming kailangan tutukan, pero gusto naming tutukan yung mental toughness and confidence,” he stated.
Phillips, who had 22 points in their conference opener, spearheaded the Lady Realtors’ offense with 19 markers that went down the drain. Amanda Villanueva chipped 13 points, 13 excellent digs, and 12 excellent receptions.
Foton next face the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers on Thursday, June 20. Meanwhile, Sta. Lucia take on the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters on Saturday, June 22. Both games are at the Imus Sports Center.