It may have failed to complete a sweep, but it’s still a mission-accomplished for Petron after clinching the crown of the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference late Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Blaze Spikers creamed bitter rival F2 Logistics, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23, in Game 3 to wrap up their best-of-three finals series and defend their title in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, Mikasa, Senoh, Asics, Mueller, UCPB Gen and Bizooku with Genius Sports as technical sponsor.
Playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan emerged as Most Valuable Player while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Bernadeth Pons delivered the firepower with 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Blaze Spikers, whose bid to duplicate a sweep of the conference was foiled by a sorry four-set loss in Game 2.
For coach Shaq Delos Santos, however, coming up with a sweep is just a bonus because their main objective is to win the title.
“This is a great Christmas blessing,” said Delos Santos, whose wards won all but one conference this season.
“Honestly, we really never thought of completing a sweep. We know how tough the competition is and winning all of our games will be very impossible. So instead of eyeing a sweep, what we did was to prepare hard everyday, give our best and respect our opponents.”
Delos Santos said their journey in this battle that also has ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV may look easy, but it took a lot of hard work and sacrifices before reaching the top, especially in the finals where the Cargo Movers pushed them to a do-or-die affair.
In Game 2, in fact, with the pressure of sweeping the conference mounting on their shoulders, the Blaze Spikers crashed and burned in the second and third sets en route to a 25-21, 19-25, 20-25, 17-25 defeat.
But instead of fading completely, the Blaze Spikers trooped back to the drawing board to map out a battleplan that aims to corner the crown.
“I just told them to bring back the old fire that made Petron successful in the past,” said Delos Santos after capping a very successful campaign of San Miguel Corp. clubs this year following the victory of San Miguel Beer, Ginebra and Magnolia in the Philippine Basketball Association.
“We don’t have to be pressured. This is just volleyball. We have to play our normal game if we want to win the crown.”
Also instrumental in Petron’s rise are star middle Mika Reyes, Remy Palma, Ging Balse-Pabayo, Frances Molina, Pia Gaiser, Chloe Cortez, Angel Legacion, Sisi Rondina, Mela Tunay, Ria Duremdes and Jasmine Alcayde.
Assistant coach Ian Fernandez should also be credited for coming up with a solid scouting report on the Cargo Movers.
“This is a total team effort,” Delos Santos said. “This victory will not be impossible without the support of the players, coaches, staff and, of course, the SMC management. We won’t be here without them.”
“This crown means a lot. It’s going to be a very merry Christmas for all of us.”