Chery Tiggo triumphs; F2 Logistics survives hard-fighting teenagers
Chery Tiggo drew the toughest opening-day assignment. Good thing the Pro Crossovers came up with a performance commensurate to the task.
The recent winners of the country’s first pro league dug deep in its championship kit to defeat hard-fighting Tuguegarao Perlas, 25-22, 20-25, 25-14, 25-23, Saturday night at the start of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League at Aquamarine Recreation Center in Lipa City, Batangas.
F2 Logistics and PetroGazz handily disposed of their respective rivals, who looked thrilled merely at sharing the same court with some of the sport’s biggest stars.
PetroGazz overwhelmed Baguio, 25-10, 25-13, 25-10, while F2 Logistics, returning to action after a long hiatus, scrubbed off young team California Precision Sports, 25-21, 25-14, 25-19.
“As usual it was an exciting match; this time we had to [work] double time. It’s a short tournament so we have to push harder,” said Chery coach Aaron Velez.
The Pro Crossovers trailed, 17-11, in the fourth as the Perlas Spikers threatened to drag the match to the full route, but the Premier Volleyball League champs responded to the challenge, hammering important points when it mattered most.
With match tied, 23-all, veteran spiker Maika Ortiz flicked a point down the deep corner and then Chery Tiggo watched as Tuguegarao Perlas flubbed a return to win the match.
“We were so excited we almost forgot to do our jobs,” said star Dindin Santiago-Manabat in Filipino. She was subbing as skipper for her sister Jaja Santiago, who is now playing in the Japan V.League. “Fortunately we got to use what we did in practice.”
Velez said it’s still a long way to go, but seeing his team work hard on the court is a reward in itself. Manabat unloaded 17 points, while Mylene Paat and Arianne Layug added 11 and five points, respectively.
Nicole Tiamzon and Mich Morente powered the Perlas Spikers with a combined 40 points.
The Cargo Movers needed to recover from a surprisingly tough first set against a team bannered by teenagers before cruising to their first victory.
“I was surprised because I thought during the pandemic, high school teams are not allowed to train,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus of the CPS Spikers. “They move very well, they showed a high level of game for a high school team.”
The CPS Spikers, who sport an average age of 16, are based in Antipolo City but, over the past 18 months, have trained in a bubble in Nueva Vizcaya.
Already, their coach, Jerry Yee, said he’s recommending to the PNVF leadership that the squad form the core of the national youth team, which he is handling.
“We have a motto that we have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, so we just tried to enjoy every moment we are playing against the pros,” said CPS captain Kizzie Madriaga. “It’s an honor for us to be here.”
CPS was in the lead many times in the opening set, forcing De Jesus to urge his wards: “Show them that you are the more veteran team.”