PLDT blows lead, survives Systema to win 1st men’s PSL title
MANILA, Philippines – PLDT MyDSL got its Philippine Super Liga campaign going with a win over Sytema in the opener and ended it with a championship at the expense of a familiar foe.
But unlike their first encounter where it ended in straight sets more than a month ago, the Speed Boosters this time, were pushed to their limits in a thrilling 28-26, 25-16, 20-25, 22-25, 16-14, win over the resurgent Active Smashers to become the inaugural PSL Grand Prix men’s division champion Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
PLDT blew a commanding two sets to none advantage before reclaiming its form and surviving a Systema uprising in the deciding set with Henry Pecaña atoning for his costly service miscues with timely hits.
Pecaña bungled a service attempt in the fourth set that paved the way for a final set before coming through when PLDT needed the most with a couple of attacks – giving the Speed Boosters a 13-11 edge before putting his team at championship point, 14-12.
A PJ Rojas error after his attack went long sealed the win for PLDT.
Kheeno Franco and Jayson Ramos carried the Speed Boosters, who stole the first set away from the Active Smashers after battling back from 17-21 down, to 2-0 set lead with the high-leaping Franco leading the way with 14 points, highlighted by four blocks.
But the momentum shifted in the next two sets as the towering AJ Pareja and Michael Zamora anchored Systema’s rally.
Zamora, who topscored with 18 points, was near-automatic at the offensive end especially in the fifth set. He scored three straight points to give Systema a 4-3 edge before Armando Maleon, Lucindo and Ramos restored order for PLDT.
“The team relaxed in the third and fourth set and [Systema] was able to grab the opportunity,” said PLDT setter Rolly Casillan, who starred with four attacks and 70 excellent sets.
“Our preparation was really focused on the emotional and psychological aspects because the team already has talented players. It’s just how we harness ourselves as one weapon and our jelling,” Casillan added.
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