After looking like they were about to drop yet another winnable game, the Philips Gold Lady Slammers came through in the end, snapping the Foton Tornadoes’ three-game winning streak in five thrilling sets 25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 15-25, 15-13 in their final game of the first round of eliminations in the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Turning in a cold performance through the first four sets of the match, former Lady Blazer, Rossan Fajardo pitched in four clutch points in the deciding set of the match, keying the Philips Gold comeback. Fajardo, who was playing through knee pains and an illness, finished with 14 points. NU Lady Bulldog, Myla Pablo was terrific the entire match as she even showed off her much improved back row attacking and topped the Lady Slammers in points with 21 all off attacks.
Philips Gold came out with the energy that eluded them in their previous loss against the Cignal HD Spikers. Setter, Iris Tolenda converted on a rare spike chance setup by Michelle Gumabao, giving Philips Gold a slim 8-6 lead. Philips Gold proceeded to pile on points off Myla Pablo’s attacks. Pablo went on to score five points in the set. Foton open hitter, Nicole Tiamzon had a cold start; scoring only two points after having most of her attacks sent back by Philips Gold’s focused blocking. Foton’s offensive futility led to an easy first win for the Lady Slammers.
Both teams traded blows in the second set as Myla Pablo and Foton’s Patty Orendain kept their teams close. Former Lady Eagle, Dzi Gervacio landed awkwardly after attempting a cross-court attack, 15-11. Gervacio was wheeled out of the arena with a brace on her left leg. Nicole Tiamzon replaced Gervacio, sparking a frisky run for both teams. Foton continually trimmed at Philips’ four-point lead down to two but Philips Gold always responded with attacks from their outside hitters and bring their lead back to four. This continued to happen with Philips Gold up 15-11, 17-13, and 21-17 before Philips Gold attack errors got the best of them. Philips Gold held a 23-21 lead late in the set before a Rossan Fajardo attack error sent them spiraling into a trend. Philips Gold reached set point first, 24-23, but failed to score another point. Philips Gold turned in an attack error followed by blocked attempts from Rossan Fajardo and Michelle Gumabao.
Both teams traded sets from there with Philips Gold trimming down their errors and capitalizing on a setter realignment, subbing Sarah Espelita in for Iris Tolenada late to spark a 5-1 run, claiming the third set. Philips Gold then coughed up 10 errors in the fourth set allowing Foton to waltz to a fourth set win, setting up a fifth and deciding set,
Rossan Fajardo broke the early exchange of the lead after converting an attack placing Philips Gold at an 11-9 advantage. From there, Foton rampaged ahead, going on a 4-1 run. This prompted the Lady Slammers coach, Francis Vicente to call a timeout. Vicente once again opted to use backup setter, Sarah Espelita who came up big setting up a Michelle Gumabao attack that tied the match. Philips Gold’s blockers brought them home after forcing a Foton attack error followed by a Hazel Mea block on Patty Orendain to seal Philips Gold’s win.
“’Di siguro nile in-expect na gagamitin ko ‘yung is kong setter [Espelita]. Naka-focus sila [Foton] sa pag-set ni Iris kaya nakakuha ako ng advantage doon,” answered Vicente when asked about what keyed his team’s victory.
Philips Gold earned only their second win in five matches while Foton slides to a 3-2 slate. The Lady Slammers will face Petron on Monday, while Foton has the Cignal HD Spikers on the same day.
Philips Gold (3) – Pablo 21, Gumabao 16, Fajardo 14, Dadang 12, Tolenada 5, Adorador 4, Mea 3, Malaluan 1, Loren 0, Espelita 0, Gohing (L)
Foton (2) – Tiamzon 21, Orendain 10, Lastimosa 10, Araneta 9, Estampa 4, Remulla 3, Gervacio 3, Factor 1, Mendez 0, Panteleon (L), Acevedo (L)