February 25, 2018, 7:29 am
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Foton, Cignal eye semis berths

FOTON and Cignal try to book the last two semis slots when they tackle dangerous opponents today in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan.

The two-time champion Tornadoes clash with dangerous Sta. Lucia Realty at 4:15 p.m. while the HD Spikers take on Cocolife at 7 o’clock in the club league backed by Mikasa, Grand Sport, Senoh, Mueller, Island Rose, Cloudfone and UCPB Gen.

After dominating the single round eliminations with identical 7-1 cards, heavyweights F2 Logistics and Petron punched the first two slots in the semifinals last Tuesday.

The Cargo Movers made short work of newcomer Iriga City 25-19, 25-12, 25-17 while the Blaze Spikers went through the wringer before booking a 19-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 15-11 victory over Generika-Ayala.

F2 Logistics will face the winner between Cignal and Cocolife while Petron will battle the survivor between Foton and Sta. Lucia in the sudden-death semifinals this Saturday.

While reigning champion Foton is tipped to easily beat Sta. Lucia due to its height, firepower and vast experience, fourth-seed Cignal is expected to have a difficult time over the veteran Cocolife side.

The HD Spikers will continue to miss the services of two of their best spikers – Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis. Gonzaga, a former Most Valuable Player winner and national team member, crashed out with a right knee injury while Daquis was diagnosed with dengue, prompting them to miss the HD Spikers’ last elimination match against Victoria Sport-UST last week.

Although the HD Spikers prevailed in straight sets, head coach George Pascua said other local players like Royse Tubino, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet, Mylene Paat and Janine Marciano need to step up against a seasoned team like the Asset Managers.

“Cocolife is a veteran team. We have to be at our best if we want to advance to the semifinals,” said Pascua, noting that they are coming in as underdogs after the Asset Managers dominated them in five sets in their first encounter 19-25, 24-26, 27-25, 25-16, 15-9.

Pascua said imports Beth Carey of Australia and Alexis Matthews of United States as well as libero Mami Miyashita of Japan have to assert their dominance at the defensive end to contain the attacking prowess of Tai Manu-Olevao and Taylor Milton.

Aside from Manu-Olevao and Milton, Cocolife also has veterans Tina Salak, Joanne Bunag, Mary Jean Balse, Michele Gumabao and libero Denden Lazaro to turn to when the going gets tough.

“We may be coming in as fourth seed, but I think we are the underdogs here,” he said. “Everybody must step up and contribute because this match is something we can’t afford to lose.”
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