Cignal’s revenge could not have gotten any sweeter.
The top-seeded HD Spikers swept the Sta. Elena Ball Hammers, 31-29, 25-23, 25-18, to take Game One of the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference best-of-three semifinals, Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
“Nung game namin sa eliminations, punong puno talaga ng emosyon,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor as Sta. Elena dealt his team their only loss of the elims last June 30. “Siguro ngayong semifinals, ininstill ko lang sa mind ng mga players ko na dapat i-set aside ang emosyon nila, na talagang laruin lang nila kung paano sila maglaro.”
The last time that the HD Spikers squeezed out a win from Sta. Elena was back in Game One of their semifinals match in the Open Conference, last December 3.
Jude Garcia and Ysay Marasigan led the way for Cignal, scoring 13 points apiece.
Coming into the second technical timeout of the third and final set, Cignal already built a commanding seven-point cushion, 16-9. The HD Spikers then pounced on a fatigued Sta. Elena squad and led by as much as nine points. Garcia and Marasigan delivered the final blows for Cignal.
National team mainstays Marck Espejo and Rex Intal provided the spark off the bench for the HD Spikers with Espejo firing 10 markers to go along with 12 excellent receptions while Intal collected six blocks in limited minutes.
Peter Torres, meanwhile, did not see action for Cignal.
“Unfortunately, hindi nakahabol ‘yung mga players namin sa National team [sa practice], buti na lang nagdeliver, ‘yun ang maganda doon, nag-deliver sila kahit hindi sila nakapagensayo para sa semifinals,” Clamor bared.
Cignal fought tooth-and-nail as the young Ball Hammers did not go down easily, managing to keep every set within a close margin.
The first set even saw both squads reach deep waters. Garcia created Cignal’s much-needed separation late in the crucial opening stanza of the game.
Nico Almendras fired 13 points all coming from attacks for the Ball Hammers while team captain James Natividad provided nine points and nine excellent receptions.
Cignal will be looking to lock up their seat in the Finals while Sta. Elena will try to extend the series on Sunday, July 14 at 2:00 pm.
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