The Petron Blaze Spikers defeated the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers on Thursday to win the 2017 Philippine SuperLiga All Filipino Conference title. Volleyball expert Tex Suter offers his analysis of Petron’s Game 2 win.
Here is my brief analysis of the championship game between Petron and F2. Truly a game worthy of being called a “FINAL.” This is what happened in my eyes.
The first set was all about which team could establish their system on the other. When it looked like Petron would break away, F2 always had an answer. Aby Maraño was keeping her team in striking distance. The problem was when Aby went to the back row, Majoy Baron looked a little hesitant in her routes and kinda affected the tempo of F2. This allowed the defense of Petron to really read F2’s play. When you couple this with the aggressive blocking of Mika Reyes, you have a solid net defense which also affected F2’s tempo. The Petron block was able to slow the F2 attack down for a transition to offense. F2 would rally around Aby in the front row, and even get to set point first. Petron would have better poise in the end game and squeak the set out, 26-24.
The second set was again a game of punch-counter punch. Both coaches put their chess hats on and sent their soldiers to execute the game plan on the battle field. This set was the total mirror image of the first. It was Petron first to set point and F2 playing catch up. Behind solid play from Dawn Macandili, the reliable libero earned her pay today as she was able to afford F2 just enough attack opportunities in transition for the Cargo Movers to do their own squeaking by to take the set 26-24. Both teams did a great job and the breaks of the game decided the outcome. That just means a great volleyball battle was taking place.
The third set was almost a replay of the second. F2 proving to be the more poised team in the end game. Subtle miscues here and there spelled the difference between taking the set or not. That’s how tight the contest was. It was difficult for Sir Sev and myself to call the game because the fan in us would come out and we were in pure appreciation of the game. We did our best, but the players were forced to give more as each team would test the other’s resolve. F2 again was the steadier team to take the set 26-24. The natural leaders becoming more and more vocal on the court, demonstrating the “refuse to lose” attitude.
Set 4 was again a boxing match as each team would effectively counter the other and that kept the contest tight. No team could erect a lead the could not be matched and even surpassed. There are no more technical analyses that can give the game justice, since it was a thing of beauty on display. The fans were so engaged and it they were hanging on every point. After a timeout late in the set, Coach Shaq delos Santos reminded his team to play Petron volleyball, his calm attitude transferred to his players and they kept their composure this time in the end game and took the set 25-23 to force a fifth set!
The fifth set was all about heart. In an interview of Coach Shaq before the game he said that this is not about skill, but the will to win. Petron was just better in the set. F2 was failing in the most subtle of ways. Those little things spelled the difference. A late approach here and a lack of aggression there was the downfall of F2. Coach Ramil de Jesus was visibly frustrated as his team could not execute the basics in the clutch. Not something you say about any team coached by him. Petron finally put the final nail in the coffin and took the set 15-11, once again regaining its championship status.
This game lived up to what a championship game should be like. Punch and counter punch, adjustment of defense to the altering of the opponent’s offense and so on. With all skills being equal, it will be the team that refuses to lose that will prevail. Petron did that as a team better than F2. There were moments where F2 would not execute the basics, and that accumulation of all the little things was the difference in the game.
If you look at the stat sheet, you would think F2 won until you look at the score sheet. Petron had eight more attacks, but F2 had seven more blocks for example. The game was not won in the stats, but in the will. Ces Molina was struggling throughout the game but hit a second option to score in a crucial point in the fifth set. Sisi Rondina ended up the highest scorer for Petron and she didn’t even start.
Majoy Baron ran her route late, and the play was read and blocked. A scramble play happened on the F2 side and the ball was popped up in front of Kim Dy and she did not recognize the situation and failed to attack. Little things like that can really take the wind out of your sail with regards to momentum and before you know it, your opponent is at match point. The discipline to do the basics in the clutch was why Petron is once again champions.
Mika Reyes showed that she has evolved her game. She always ran her routes in tempo and kept the middle blockers of F2 engaged. That will never show up in the stat sheet, but the wing hitters and coaches love her for that. Kudos also to Rhea Dimaculangan for running an excellent game. She kept F2’s defense off balanced by using all her hitters. Remy Palma and Riri Meneses had a combined 10 points. Great production when Mika was in the back row.
F2’s Des Cheng suffered a cramp around the knee area and Cha Cruz came in and did a great job. Tyang Aby was her usual self, but she needed more help in the will department as she alone was not enough to will her team to win. It needed to be a team effort.