Angels try to regroup, seek finals equalizer

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    VITAL COGS: PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog is hoping his Big 4 of (from left) Jeanette Panaga, Jonah Sabete, Cherry Nunag and Jovie Prado will finally deliver as one in Game 2.
    VITAL COGS: PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog is hoping his Big 4 of (from left) Jeanette Panaga, Jonah Sabete, Cherry Nunag and Jovie Prado will finally deliver as one in Game 2.

    OUTHIT and outwitted in Game 1, PetroGazz vowed to bounce back strong and reprise its feat in the Reinforced Conference as the Angels go for the equalizer against the Creamline Cool Smashers in the PVL Open Conference Finals this Saturday.

    Coach Arnold Laniog admitted his wards played below par despite going into the match fully rested and well motivated after a long break in the run-up to the best-of-three title series at The Arena in San Juan.

    “We’re not able to perform what we’re supposed to do,” Laniog said after the Angels absorbed a 14-25, 22-25, 25-27 defeat in the opener of their best-of-three series last Wednesday.

    While stressing they expected the Cool Smashers to come out strong with their power game, Laniog was surprised that the Angels came out flat and cracked when the going got tough.

    “We knew that Creamline would play to that level but the problem was we were not able to measure up. They controlled us with their attacks, particularly from the wings,” added Laniog, referring to Creamline’s 1-2 punch in Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza, who accounted for 31 of the team’s 51 attack points, 19 more than the Angels.

    The defending champions also baffled the Angels with their strong serves, slowing down and unsettling the latter’s offense as middles Jeanette Panaga and Cherry Nunag struggled anchoring their quick plays and finished with a combined nine-point output.

    Jonah Sabete and Jovie Prado fired 12 and 11 hits, respectively, but the rest of the Angels failed to step up with Cai Baloaloa and Paneng Mercado chipping in four and two markers, respectively.

    While giving credit to Creamline’s solid game in their straight-set setback, Laniog stressed the need for his wards to start out strong and level up in Game 2 as they aim to duplicate their Reinforced Conference feat that saw them drop the series opener but sweep the next two to score a breakthrough.

    “What’s important is for us to play as good as them (Cool Smashers) or better,” said Laniog.

    The Angels also need to toughen up, particularly in pressure-packed situations as evident in their meltdown in the second set, which they led majority of the way, and in the third, which they lost in extended fashion.