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Pablo-less Philips Gold lean on Bo to gain top seed



The Philips Gold Lady Slammers, with a depleted lineup, relished the splendid efforts of import Bojana Todorovic and bench hitter Kai Nepomuceno. The Lady Slammers thwarted the defending champs Petron Blaze Spikers in four sets, 28-30, 29-27, 25-17, 25-23, in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Opening the match with vigor, the Lady Slammers built an early four-point lead, 16-12, before Petron mounted their comeback. Trailing 20-22, Petron got a lift from consecutive Philips Gold hitting errors and tied the match. Trading errors and untimely miscues, both teams dragged the set into a prolonged deuce, which Petron claimed through another duo of errors from Philips Gold.

Petron import Rupia Inck burst through at the start of the second frame, scoring three straight points for an 8-5 Petron lead. Todorovic then came alive, scoring nine straight points and pushing Philips ahead, 13-11. Philips kept Petron at bay with smart attacking and gained multiple cracks to reach set point at 24-21. The Blaze Spikers, however, refused to go down, getting clutch points from Rachel Daquis and Frances Molina to force another deuce. Petron nearly stole the set again after Aby Maraño fired a down-the-line attack that gave the Blaze Spikers a 27-26. Todorovic the replied with an emphatic off-the-block hit to tie the set. Petron’s Brazilian imports Rupia Inck and Erica Adachi ended the set, dumping two errors.

A salvo of emphatic kills from both sides opened the third set. Philips Gold broke away Alexis Olgard and Todorovic put away two straight kills for a 13-9 advantage. Petron trimmed the deficit down to as few as two, 14-16, but a stretch of five straight errors buoyed Philips Gold to a 22-15 lead and Petron never recovered.

To retaliate, Petron started the fourth set strong and took an 8-5 lead. But the Lady Slammers seemed to have their number, amping up their defensive intensity and overpowering the Blaze Spikers. Philips quickly tied the set and, behind the attacking of trio Todorovic, Nepomuceno, and Olgard, gained a sizable 23-19 lead. Petron, like a Walker that refused to die, grabbed the Lady Slammers by the heel and dragged them down, eventually trimming the lead down to one, 23-24, after a Iumi Yongco service error. Michele Gumabao, however, dug her team out, putting away an off-speed hit that sealed their victory.

Todorovic notched a season-best 38 points, the second-most points ever scored in the PSL, and added nine excellent digs to boot. Her fellow Philips import, Alexis Olgard, paced the offense with 21 markers off 16 attacks, four blocks, and an ace. Nepomuceno, who came in for her fellow NU Lady Bulldog Myla Pablo, scored 10 points.

Pablo missed the match to attend to academic concerns. Despite not having practiced with the starting six at all, Philips Gold head coach Francis Vicente says he was fully confident that Nepomuceno would deliver. “Noong Sunday ko na nalaman na hindi makakalaro si Myla. Hindi pa nga nakapagpractice si Kai kasi may dysmenorrhea kahapon. Pero confident talaga ako sa kanya, kahit dati pa, before siya sumali ng Philips Gold, alam ko na ang kakayanan niyan ni Kai,” said Vicente who coached Nepomuceno in the UAAP with the NU Lady Bulldogs.

The win planted the Lady Slammers firmly on top of the standings to end the elimination round with an 8-2 slate. Petron dropped to second at 7-3. Petron and Philips could face either Cignal or Foton depending on how the final match of the elimination round goes.

Rupia Inck garnered a team-high 26 points. Former PSL MVPs Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Rachel Daquies went for 13 and 11 points respectively.

The Scores

Philips Gold (3) – Todorovic 38, Olgard 21, Nepomuceno 10, Gumabao 6, Dadang 2, Dowd 2, Espelita 0, Sy 0, Yongco 0, Crisostomo (L), Gohing (L)

Petron (1) – Rupia 26, Manabat 13, Daquis 11, Maraño 8, Molina 3, Adachi 2, Aganon 2, Masangkay 0, Morada 0, Cayetano 0, Reyes (L)


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.