LUCENA CITY – The Philips Gold Lady Slammers fought off five consecutive Cignal HD Spikers match points in a heated fifth and kept their PSL All-Filipino Cup campaign alive, 21-25, 25-23, 25-9, 18-25, 20-18 at the Quezon Convention Center.
The Lady Slammers struggled early in the match as their usual contributors went stale. Philips coach, Francis Vicente had to shuffle through his players, eventually settling with seldom used Libero, Mae Crisostomo for the entire match and toggling between Leuseht Dawis and Myla Pablo before going with his usual starter, Pablo who only got herself going late in the match.
Philips Gold team captain, Michelle Gumabao wad her usual steadying force, leading her team to score with 15 points, while Benilde’s Rossan Fajardo added to her string of good games with 12 markers. NU’s Desiree Dadang was clutch throughout the match, notching four points in the final set including the match’s last point, finishing with 13 markers.
Cignal’s Mela Tunay top-scored the match with 18 points but her HD Spikers just couldn’t get over the hump in a match where they played their worst set of the season – the third set where they gave up every type of error, even going on a stretch of five straight service errors. Cignal eventually played well enough to force a fifth and deciding set where they had five match points at 14-9. Coach Sammy Acaylar’s team suddenly couldn’t deliver the point-ending attacks that brought the lead, allowing Philips Gold to rattle off five straight points to force a deuce. The team traded a share of the advantage with Cignal, who earned themselves three set points, however Philips Gold’s composure and sound floor defense allowed them to further fend off their demise. Cignal’s Mervic Mangui delivered an attack that tied the set at 18 but the NU product then came back and coughed up the attack error that put Philips Gold at advantage. Philips’ Desiree Dadang put away the match with quick attack that she crushed off the arms of Jeannette Panaga.
After the game, Coach Acaylar was fuming at the game’s officiating. Acaylar claims that the point awarded to Philips Gold off a Myla Pablo crosscourt attack that trimmed their lead, 14-12, was incorrectly called as the ball visibly landed outside the court. The arena barker was also under the impression that the points went to Cignal and prematurely congratulated the HD Spikers. Coach Acaylar spent a good amount of time arguing the call after the match to no avail.
Still, his HD Spikers still gave up a multitude of opportunities to win the match and Coach Vicente was more than happy his team caught the breaks of the game. “Ang sakit sa puso ng laban,” Vicente said after the match. “Nananalangin na lang ako sa sideliness noon [fifth set] na gugustuhin nila manalo. Tinanggal ko na lahat ng negativity sa huddle at sabi ko kailangan gustuhin nila manalo.”
Philips now sets up a do-or-die match with top seeded, Petron on Monday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Philips Gold (3) – Gumabao 15, Dadang 13, Fajardo 12, Pablo 10, Tolenada 7, Malaluan 7, Dawis 4, Adorador 0, Espelita 0, Gohing (L), Crisostomo (L)
Cignal (2)– Tunay 18, Vivas 13, Mangui 13, Clemente 11, Panaga 9, Ancheta 4, Ticar 2, Segodine 0, Bravo 0, Enclona (L), Dionela (L)