By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Games Today (The Arena, San Juan)
2 p.m. UST vs SSC
4 p.m. Perpetual vs Ateneo
Manila, Philippines – Semifinal action in the ninth Shakey’s V-League presented by Smart gets going today at The Arena in San Juan.
Top seed and defending champion Ateneo squares off with fourth-ranked Perpetual at 4 p.m., while No. 2 University of Santo Tomas tangles with San Sebastian College in the 2 p.m. opener.
The Lady Eagles and the Tigresses are favored to reach the finals, but an upset could not be discounted.
Behind the efforts of Thai import Phee Nok Kesinee and Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo stakes its unbeaten run of seven games after the quarters.
UST, likewise, has yet to lose to SSC as it guns for a seventh crown upon its return to the league. The Espana-based spikers boast of a deep lineup composed of guest player Utaiwan Kaensing, currently the top spiker in the conference, Judy Caballejo and Maruja Banaticla.
SSC coach Clint Malazo, whose team clinched the No. 3 seeding after a ﬁve-set victory over Perpetual Help last Thursday, said they are unfazed by their talentladen rival.
“Aminado kami na medyo lamang sila kasi beterano ang players nila, pero siyempre lalaruin lang namin lahat ng makakaya namin, kahit tsamba, basta manalo,” said Malazo. “Tatlong games naman yun eh, one game at a time lang.”
Malazo said he will rely mostly on their defensive strategies, knowing that UST is one of the most powerful offensive teams in the league. The Tigresses are currently on top in the attack departement, posting 388 kills for 38 percent.
“Kailangang pagtuunan namin yung blocking namin. Hindi pwedeng itapat yung opensa sa opensa kasi iilan lang naman sa amin ang nakakapalo,” said Malazo.
Dafna Robinos and Rubie De Leon are expected to lead SSC’s defensive stops, while veteran Jang Baulee and Analyn Benito take charge of the attack line.