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Red-hot Petron looking inward for Finals prep

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Tiebreaker Times Red-hot Petron looking inward for Finals prep News PSL Volleyball  Shaq delos Santos Petron Blaze Spikers Bernadeth Pons 2018 PSL Season 2018 PSL All Filipino Conference
Photo from Roman Prospero/PSL

There has been no team more dominant in local volleyball than the Petron Blaze Spikers, even in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference.

Petron have won all 12 of their matches, dropping just three sets along they way. They have looked unstoppable lately, throttling Sta. Lucia in the quarterfinals before breezing past Cignal HD in the semis.

Throughout the tough competition, the Blaze Spikers have been notably loose on and off the court. Head coach Shaq Delos Santos believes that team chemistry is as integral to success as technical preparation.

“Importante kasi sa amin na maganda rin ‘yung samahan naming coaching staff, pati players, kasi mas madaling maglaro for each other kapag may ganoong environment,” said the National Team mentor, who often instigates the team’s antics.

Last Tuesday – right before their match against Cignal – the Blaze Spikers were singing Jumbo Hotdog by the Masculados. They were spoofing Delos Santos and assistant coach Yani Delos Santos, who had danced to the song at the PSL Christmas party at Monday evening.

Scenes like these are frequent in the Petron dugout. While the team knows they’ll need to come prepared against rivals F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the Finals, they also emphasize the need to stay relaxed and focused.

“Nakakatuwa kasi nailalabas namin kung ano talaga ‘yung laro namin. Pinaghirapan namin para makarating kami dito,” mused Bernadeth Pons, who mustered 14 points against the HD Spikers.

“Sobrang pinapatabay lang namin ‘yung composure namin in and out the court. Nawawala kami minsan doon pero si coach kasi gusto niya relaxed lang kami sa court para di kami ma-rattle. More on bonding din talaga kami kasi kailangan namin ‘yung tibay na ‘yun internally.”

Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena will mark the fifth time Petron and F2 Logistics face off in a Finals series, with the teams splitting the past four encounters.

With each team having almost the same roster from the past meetings, Pons still expects a few surprises from their rivals.

“‘Yung F2 kasi, pag-aaralan kami noon sigurado. May gagawain silang iba. And kami din, may ibang gagawin, so ‘yung labanan na lang is mental toughness and heart. Bawat puntos sigurado kailangan naming paghirapan.”

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.

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