Nothing was really at stake for Petro Gazz on Tuesday, but days after hitting their first target, which coach Oliver Almadro said they had unexpectedly achieved, the Angels missed any chance to catch their breath.
“We have to work harder, focus more and keep trusting each other,” Almadro told the Inquirer after a 25-21, 28-26, 25-21 dismantling of a ferocious Cheri Tiggo at a packed San Agustin gymnasium. Tuesday in Iloilo Province, which closed the schedule of the All-Philippine Conference elimination round of the Angels Major Volleyball League.
“We can’t slow down, we have to be more consistent than we were (in the eliminations),” he added after four players scored in double figures in a game they could take lightly after were already confident of progressing early. like last week due to a higher set-to-win ratio.
Finishing the game with a 6-2 record, the Angels also eliminated the Crossovers, who slipped to 4-4, and gave PLDT a free trip to the Final Four with a game left on the high-speed hitters’ schedule.
PLDT will also close against crowd favorite Choco Mucho on Thursday at the PhilSports Arena, and a loss will send the High Speed Hitters into a semifinal showdown against the consensus team to beat Creamline in a best-of-three series.
That scenario will also mean the Petro Gazz-F2 semi-final match.
“It’s something we really didn’t expect,” Almadro said of reaching the semifinals, considering the team lost its leading scorer and top libero in the offseason. “But the players refused to use that as an excuse and fought hard every night against anyone.
“I’m happy that we all continue to grow together,” said Almadro, who is in his third month with the Angels. “The hard work just continues for everyone and we’re hoping the Good Lord gives us a spot in the title race.”
Both squads came out full force in the second set, launching a series of rallies that had the 7,000-strong crowd roaring.
“We’re just overwhelmed by the big crowd,” said Remy Palma, who had 13 points for the Angels. “They really worked hard to get here, so for us, playing well is just a way to give back to the fans.”
Chery Tiggo trailed by 7 at 24-17 before reeling off seven straight points. Palma was able to break the Angels’ dry spell by reaching set point, only for Gretchel Saltons to throw it away with a wild serve.
Aiza Maizo-Pontilas put Petro Gaz back on top, only for Milen Paat to take revenge and tie it all at 26.
A double contact foul by Cheri Tiggo proved costly and Jonah Sabete took advantage, converting a kill to secure a 2-0 lead that all but took the wind out of the Crossovers’ sails.
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