Approaching maximum intensity, the Foton Tornadoes stormed into the Malolos Sports and Convention Center and brought home a ticket to the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Finals after taking care of the RC Cola-Army Lady Troopers, 21-25, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21.
Rookie Ej Laure led a balanced Foton scoresheet with 21 points. Jaja Santiago added 17, while Maika Ortiz and Cherry Rondina finished with 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
The lead shifted between both teams at the start of the match. Army held a short-lived 16-14 lead before the Tornadoes swooped down and tied the match at 20. A spell of Foton errors led to a 4-1 Army burst, setting up Jovelyn Gonzaga’s set-clinching smash.
Steadying their floor defense, Foton punished Army with laser-fast transitions in the next two sets. Keeping their offense dynamic, the Tornadoes rampaged to a 20-14 lead in the second set, then just as easily built a 23-13 lead in the third frame to take the lead in the match, 2-1 in sets.
Army battled hard in the fourth set, making their final push to trim a 16-13 Foton lead down to one, 16-15, after back-to-back Gonzaga hits. But the younger tornadoes found a second wind, finding points from Ej Laure and Maika Ortiz to take a 23-18 lead. Cherry Rondina delivered an rolling hit to set up match point, which Jaja Santiago delivered off a quick hit.
“Army is such a tough team to beat kahit kulang sila talagang lumaban pa sila at dinaan kami sa sipag at desire. We’re just happy na kahit papaano nagawan namin ng paraan ang sipag nila,” said Foton head coach Vilet Ponce-De Leon.
Foton will face the winner of the F2 Logistics-Petron tiff on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre for the Finals. The loser faces the RC Cola-Army Lady Troopers.
“So di pa tapos. Wala pa naman reason to celebrate. The Finals is going to be another tough match for us kahit sinasabi na nagpepeak na kami. Marami pa kaming kailangan ayusin. Masyado pang marami ‘yung errors,” Ponce quipped.
Gonzaga powered the Lady Troopers with 24 points, six digs, and 18 excellent receptions. Royse Tubino addee 12 markers.
Game One of the Finals and the battle for third will take place on Thursday, August 11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Foton (3) – Laure 21, Santiago 17, Ortiz 14, Rondina 13, Araneta 7, Dimaculangan 3, Macatuno 0, Perez 0, Orendain 0, General (L)
RC Cola (1) – Gonzaga 24, Tubino 12, Carolino 7, Sabas 5, Bautista 3, De Leon 3, Salak 3, Gonzales 1, Delos Reyes 1, Nunag 0, Torres (L), Agno (L)