The Petron Blaze Spikers showed the Foton Tornadoes the door out of the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Invitational Cup, 27-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, in the Cadiz Arena in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
Petron rallied back from a 12-15 deficit in the opening set. Hometown hero Aiza Maizo-Pontillas scored crucial points, including the hit that allowed the Blaze Spikers to force a deuce, 24-all. Pontillas then slammed in a down-the-line kill that gave Petron set point, 26-25, and set up Ivy Perez’s double-contact fault for the frame’s final point.
The Blaze Spikers received a boost from Negrense Bernadeth Pons to close the second set. Pons kept plays alive late in the set and provided offense in a closing 8-1 run.
With their tournament lives on the line, Foton pulled off a late 5-1 burst to extend the match. Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos acknowledged that complacency got the best of his players.
“Medyo maging complacent talaga noong dulo. Hindi kami naka-execute nang maayos,” rued the national team head coach.
Petron recovered quickly, putting the fourth set out-of-doubt after taking a 17-10 lead. Delos Santos expressed pride in his team’s crisp execution against taller foes.
“Mas matangkad talaga sila sa amin. Kahit na struggling sila, alam naming lalaban at lalaban sila. Kaya talagang pinaghandaan namin sila at mabuti naka-execute kami noong dulo,” Delos Santos explained.
Team captain Ces Molina led a balanced Petron offense with 15 points, while middle blocker Mika Reyes added 13 markers.
Jaja Santiago had her best match of the tournament in Foton’s last game in contention for a semis berth, tallying 23 points. Her sister, Dindin Santiago-Manabat added 15 markers.
Petron (1-0) take on the University of the Philippines-United Auctioneers Inc. (0-1) on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. Foton, who can only play for a place from 7th to 10th, also face UP on Tuesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Petron (3) – Molina 15, Reyes 13, Pontillas 12, Rondina 8, Palma 6, Pons 6, Cortez 4, Agudo 1, Legacion 1, Duremdes (L), Gaiser (L)
Foton (1) – Santiago 23, Manabat 15, Perez 8, Adorador 7, Aganon 4, Ortiz 4, De Leon 2, Rosario 1, Sy 0, Reyes (L)