With the highly-coveted second seed on the line, the Shopinas.com Lady Clickers’ veteran composure shone through, as they battled it out with a 1-2 set score deficit and vanquished the Foton Tornadoes in five sets, 14-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20, 15-10 in the final match of the preliminary round of the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Shopinas leaned heavily on their contingent of La Sallians to pull them out of the ditch late in the match. Paneng Mercado, once again, topped all Lady Clickers in scoring with 23 points, while Kianna Dy superb play at the net gave her 15 markers including a game-high four blocks.
Foton played perfectly in the sets they won, building leads early anchored by the steady attacking of their outside hitters. Shopinas.com, however, had to draw contributions from seldom used players to climb back in the first two frames they claimed. Down 15-21 in the second set, Shopinas’ Arianna Angustia capped a 10-2 scoring run with masterful serving as Foton’s back row couldn’t properly telegraph her serves. She drained two straight aces that got them to set point, and Rizza Mandapat finished the set off with an attack that careened off the hands of two blockers.
It was Kianna Dy’s turn, in the fourth set, to pull her team out of the grave. With Foton ahead 19-18, Dy rifled off three straight points off two ferocious quick attacks followed by a block to spark a 6-0 Lady Clickers scoring run, hijacking the set right from under the Tornadoes.
La Salle’s Paneng Mercado and Cha Cruz had a throwback to their college days in the fifth set, as they once again spearheaded their team when they needed them most. Paneng wound up scoring seven points in the deciding set including her team’s last three points, while Cha Cruz was a steadying presence in the back row, netting three straight clutch digs to help her team build a lead.
“Ang motivation talaga ng mga player eh ayaw nilang pumunta ng Lucena. Siyempre kakailanganin pa nila noon magpaalam sa trabaho kaya sabi ko, kung ayaw niyo mahirapan, ayusin niyo ngayon,” said Shopinas Head Coach, Ramil De Jesus.
Shopinas now awaits the winner of the Foton-Mane ‘n Tail tiff, to be held on Saturday at Lucena, to see who will they’ll have to go through to make the Finals. Top-seeded Petron will face the winner of the Philips Gold-Cignal match, also on Saturday for the right to a Finals berth.
Shopinas.com (3) – Paneng 23, Dy 15, Cruz 9, Mandapat 9, Angustia 7, Eguia 3, Hingpit 2, Tiu 2, Laborte 2, Cheng 1, General (L), Sison (L)
Foton (2) – Tiamzon 21, Orendain 14, Lastimosa 14, Araneta 8, Remulla 8, Tan 2, Macatuno 0, Panteleon (L)