Games on Thursday
2 p.m. – Ateneo vs Navy
4 p.m. – Army vs SSC
Expect American Lauren Ford to bounce back strong and San Sebastian to go flat out for a victory against Army as the Lady Stags try to force a sudden death for the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference crown on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
With Ford clipped to a personal low of five points, the Lady Troopers needed just three sets to beat the Stags, 25-9, 25-20, 25-16, in last Sunday’s opener of their best-of-three series for the league’s season-ending conference sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
While Army played true to form, SSC lacked cohesion and firepower that have been the trademark of the Lady Stags’ impressive showing from the elims to the quarters and the semis of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water.
SSC’s mediocre performance in the series’ opener was best typified by Ford, who came into the Final Four with a league-leading 18.9-point norm.
She actually slowed down with a 10-point performance in their second match with Navy in the semis but her paltry five-point output in the finals came as a big letdown for a player who just bagged not only best scorer plum but also the coveted MVP honors.
Thai import Jang Baulee is tipped to dish out the same fighting form as she did in SSC’s last two games where she emerged as the top scorer with support to come from Rubie de Leon, Joy Benito, Dahlia Robinos and Jennifer Manzano.
The Lady Stags are also expected to make the necessary adjustment on their attacks after the Troopers neutralized them with their awesome blocking with Mary Jean Balse and Rachel Ann Daquis combining for six of the team’s 10 blocks.
But Balse and Daquis are also two of Army’s vaunted hitters, along with the Carolino sisters – Michelle and Marietta. Add Joanne Bunag and Cristina Salak to the mix, the Troopers are indeed one tough team to defend against.
Meanwhile, Navy also seeks an equalizer against Ateneo in their own series for third place with the Lady Sailors likewise needing to step up to avenge their thrilling five-set loss, 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-14, 8-15, to the Lady Eagles in Game One.(pr)
Game on Thursday
4 p.m. – Air Force vs Ateneo
Air Force and Ateneo slug it out on Thursday for the last semifinal berth in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference with the Airwomen going for three-in-row over the Lady Eagles at The Arena in San Juan.
But in a sudden death, records are not much of a factor with Ateneo motivated not only by revenge but also by desire to keep its bid for a sweep of the season’s titles after bagging the first conference crown in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
Gametime is at 4 p.m.
The Airwomen, with only a win to show in four games in the quarters, rode on Jennifer Manzano’s firepower and Aiza Maizo’s steady game to beat the Eagles in four last Tuesday, forcing a three-way tie for Nos. 3 and 4 with the Navy side.
But the Lady Sailors took the No. 3 spot with a higher quotient, relegating Air Force and Ateneo to a playoff for the last Final Four seat and the right to face topnotcher Philippine Army.
The Lady Troopers and the San Sebastian Lady Stags actually finished tied for first with 4-1 slates after the single round quarters of the season-ending conference backed by Accel, Mikasa and Maynilad Water. But Army took the No. 1 spot with a higher quotient.
SSC and Navy tangle in the other best-of-three semis pairing starting Sunday.
While Fille Cainglet and Alyssa Valdez continued to dish out fine form for Ateneo, the Lady Eagles also need to neutralize the Airwomen’s attack and be consistent with their own. Air Force dropped a total of 162 spikes, scoring 61 while Ateneo had more attempts on the net, 172, but only converted 49 of them.
Leading setter Jamenea Ferrer, with a 10.62 norm per set, must keep offense going for Ateneo, which is also tops in digs but just couldn’t translate them into precious points. Other players to watch for Ateneo are Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Marie de Jesus and Aerieal Patnongon.
With their season on the line, Maizo is expected to step up and take charge for Air Force, which also hopes to draw the same fire and determination not only from Manzano but also from the likes of Liza Deramos, Amelia Guanco, Wendy Semana, Christmarie Latigay and Irish Patrona.
Meanwhile, the Air Force-Ateneo duel last Tuesday will be shown today (Thursday) starting at 2 p.m. on NBN-4 and also on GMA-7’s international channels GMA Pinoy TV, GMA LifeTV and GMA News TV, according to the organizing Sports Vision.(pr)