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Superliga: Foton, Cignal gun for semis slots

Foton will clash with dangerous Sta. Lucia Realty. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA — Foton and Cignal will try to book the remaining semifinal slots when they tackle separate foes in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

It’s going to be another intense battle as two-time champion Tornadoes clash with dangerous Sta. Lucia Realty at 4:15 p.m. followed by the collision between the HD Spikers and Cocolife at 7 p.m.

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

F2 Logistics will face the winner between Cignal and Cocolife, while Petron will battle the survivor between Foton and Sta. Lucia in a sudden-death semifinal affair for a chance to advance to the best-of-three finals starting Tuesday next week.

While reigning champion Foton is tipped to run over Sta. Lucia, fourth-seed Cignal is expected to have a difficult time before prevailing over the veteran Cocolife side. 

The HD Spikers, for one, will continue to miss the services of two of their best spikers – Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis – to injuries.

Although the HD Spikers prevailed in straight sets, head coach George Pascua still couldn’t help but stress the need for other local players like Royse Tubino, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet, Mylene Paat and Janine Marciano to step up against a very 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 US 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.”

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)

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