MANILA, Philippines – The protagonists of last year’s dramatic finals battle anew when unbeaten Foton takes on Petron in the Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Action starts at 7 p.m., following the match between bottom-dwellers Victoria Sports-UST (0-2) and Sta. Lucia Realty (0-3) at 4:15 p.m.
Tipped as favorites to contend for the Grand Prix title, Foton and Petron will renew their budding rivalry. They have battled in the finals for the past two years, with the Tornadoes emerging triumphant both times.
This year, however, figures to be different.
Foton’s gem of an import in former MVP Lindsay Stalzer shockingly crossed enemy lines in the offseason, opting to join Petron where she teamed up with fellow American Hillary Hurley and Japanese Yuri Fukuda. They anchor a solid core of local stars: Rhea Dimaculangan, Sisi Rondina, Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Remy Palma, Frances Molina and Ria Meneses.
In response, Foton launched a massive build-up of their own. The Tornadoes taped the services of three European imports in Sara Klisura and Katarina Vukamanovic of Serbia and Dragana Perunicnic of Montenegro to join head coach Moro Branislav and their local crew of Jaja Santiago, Maika Ortiz, Jen Reyes and EJ Laure.
The result has been impressive. Foton won its first four matches, while the Blaze Spikers claimed their first three games before suffering a four-set loss to another powerhouse in F2 Logistics last week in Bacolod City. Petron quickly regained its winning ways, however, sweeping Victoria Sports-UST over the weekend.
Petron coach Shaq delos Santos is already bracing for a dogfight but vowed to show up prepared as they have a score to settle against their rivals.
“Foton is such a tough and solid team,” said Delos Santos. “They have a good coach, a good system, and good players. It’s going to be a very challenging battle for us.”
“But we’ll be ready,” he promised.
Branislav, for his part, knows that their game against Petron will be crucial.
“We know they want to give us our first loss,” said the Serbian coach. “We have to do everything to stop them. For my opinion, it’s going to be an exciting match. I will surely prepare my team.”
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