By Jerome Lagunzad
Reigning titlist F2 Logistics and powerhouse Petron square off in what promises to be a titanic best-of-three finals series for the 2017 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference crown starting tonight at the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
The keenly-awaited clash is set at 7 p.m., with the Cargo Movers eager to inch closer towards a successful title-retention bid and the Blaze Spikers equally determined to regain the crown they won behind a remarkable sweep two years ago.
Serving as the perfect appetizer is the “Battle for Third” showdown between Foton and Cignal, both raring to close out their respective campaigns on a high note.
Much of the spotlight will fall on the main match, with Petron considered as the odds-on favorite following a morale-boosting 23-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-15, 15-9 victory against F2 Logistics in their lone meeting back in the elimination round.
Repeating over the Cargo Movers is easier said than done and Blaze Spikers coach Shaq Delos Santos couldn’t stress that hard enough.
“Having a strong lineup alone is not the key to winning a title,” he said. “We still have to work hard and prepare. It’s going to be an exciting battle.”
Former F2 Logistics star Mika Reyes is tipped to lead Petron’s towering net defense alongside collegiate standouts Marivic Meneses and Remy Palma while skipper Frances Molina, Mina Aganon, Bernadeth Pons, Carmela Tunay and Sisi Rondina will take turns on their offensive charge.
Out to provide the needed stability for the Blaze Spikers are veterans Rhea Dimaculangan and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas.
The Cargo Movers, built around the core of reigning UAAP champion La Salle, will come in armed with their own set of potent weapons led by current UAAP MVP Majoy Baron, veterans Aby Maraño, Ara Galang, Kim Dy and prized playmaker Kim Fajardo.
How the 6-foot Baron will perform at the net opposite Reyes should serve as one of the series’ notable subplots.
“Majoy got a break when Mika left,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus. “She’s now more confident, especially after being named season MVP of the UAAP. Her confidence level was so high right at the start of the season.”
De Jesus added the Cargo Movers should be more motivated to get back at the Blaze Spikers.