Paat Paat: Confident

CHERY Tiggo in vital tiff vs Creamline

March 26, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 580 views

CHERY Tiggo puts its championship on the line against a Creamline side aching to regain the throne when the PVL Open Conference quarterfinals opens – with fans back at the stands tomorrow at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

So many things have changed seven months after the Crossovers upended the Cool Smashers in a thriller of a finale to crown itself the country’s first women’s profession volley champion at the Ilocos Norte bubble.

But one thing will stick around when they face off again at 6 p.m. tomorrow – the competitive fire – although this time, they’ll be dueling not for the crown but for the chance to stay on track for a title crack.

Reigning Most Valuable Player Jaja Santiago, who is currently playing in the Japan V.League for Ageo Medics, was sorely missed but Chery Tiggo remains upbeat of extending the team’s reign.

“Despite Jaja’s absence, I trust my teammates that we can overcome the challenge,” said Mylene Paat, now the Crossovers’ leading player, whose recent stint in Thailand as an import has further enhanced her spiking skills and firmed up her resolve.

“Rest assured, we will give Creamline a good fight.”

Dindin Santiago-Manabat, EJ Laure, Shaya Adorador, Maika Ortiz, setter Jasmine Nabor and libero Buding Duremdes will need to dish out their best to neutralize the Cool Smashers’ twice-to-beat edge, their reward for sweeping and topping Pool B.

“We really need to prepare and analyze their edge, weaknesses and at the same time work out where we will be effective,” said Paat.

Chery Tiggo lost to Cignal HD, F2 Logistics and Choco Mucho before hurdling Army Black Mamba to survive Group A, which is tagged as “pool of death”.

In contrast, Creamline swept its three matches in Group B, including a tough five-setter over PetroGazz last Thursday.

Still potent as ever, coach Sherwin Meneses is expecting his Cool Smashers to get stronger, better as the tournament enters the crucial stage.

“Given the three-day break, we expect to recover and improve. But we have to study and check our lapses (against the Angels),” said Meneses. “That win was important, if only for the momentum as we head to the quarters.”

“But even if we have the twice-to-beat advantage, we need to play solid,” he added.

The vaunted trio of Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos, who dropped 28 points against PetroGazz, were solid all throughout pool play, with Jia Morado-De Guzman doing what she does best in orchestrating Creamline’s fast-paced offense.

“Everybody has been contributing. For as long as they’re playing within the system, I don’t see any problem,” said Meneses.

“Jia has been taking care of ball distribution for our hitters and our middle also has had good looks at attacks,” said Meneses.

Downplaying the payback angle following their title setback to the Crossovers last year, Meneses is simply focused on what lies on the table.

“We’re not thinking much of getting a revenge but we have to play right at susunod na lang ‘yung panalo,” said Meneses.

Meanwhile, the other quarterfinal match tomorrow pit Group A winners Cignal HD against BaliPure, while Choco Mucho and PLDT, and Petro Gazz and F2 Logistics cross paths the following day.

The HD Spikers, the Flying Titans and the Angels also hold twice-to-beat incentives in the quarters.