Faced with a daunting task of choosing which team to meet in the Final Four, PLDT coach Rald Ricafort has opted not to look beyond the task at hand – that is, hurdling a block as tough as Choco Mucho at the close of the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference today (Thursday) back at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
With a 5-2 (win-loss) slate, PLDT looks to tie early semifinalists Petro Gazz and F2 Logistics at 6-2 with a victory over Choco Mucho in their 4 p.m. encounter. But trailing the Angels and the Cargo Movers in tiebreak points, the High Speed Hitters need to win in three or four sets over the Flying Titans to finish third in the final rankings for a clash with the No. 2 Angels in the semis.
Otherwise, PLDT will wind up at No. 4 and will meet elims topnotcher Creamline (7-1) in the best-of-three series.
But Ricafort wants to focus on their key match against the Flying Titans, whom they have not beaten since the franchise joined the country’s premier women’s volley league.
“Either team (Creamline or Petro Gazz) will be tough opponents because they are championship-caliber teams,” said Ricafort on their possible semis opponents. “What we only have control of is our next game, which is Choco Mucho. PLDT has not yet beaten Choco Mucho since we joined the PVL.”
“We have to win that game first and let fate decide our destiny,” he added.
True. But while fate is set by outside forces, destiny involves choice and observers believe the best option for the High Speed Hitters is to get past the Flying Titans and get to face the Angels, whom Ricafort steered to the PVL Reinforced crown last year.
PLDT edged Petro Gazz in five last Feb. 23 but the High Speed Hitters succumbed to the Cool Smashers in three last March 7.
Petro Gazz has amassed 19 points to secure the No. 2 seeding while F2 Logistics finished with 16 points and PLDT has a running 15-point total and is eyeing to improve to 18 points with a convincing victory over Choco Mucho.
But the Flying Titans, for sure, would want to end their campaign not just for the sake of winning but also for their hordes of fans, ensuring a slam-bang action in what has been a spirited race to the post-elims play of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
Winless Army and Cignal (2-5), meanwhile, tangle in the 6:30 p.m., also both seeking to exit on a winning mode.
But focus will be on the PLDT-Choco Mucho duel with Ricafort hoping to draw the best from his core made up of Mean Mendrez, Jovie Prado, Mika Reyes, Michelle Morente and Dell Palomata as they try to gain the confidence and momentum needed in the next phase.
The Flying Titans, however, are due for a big rebound coming off three straight defeats that ruined their semifinal drive with the troika of Kat Tolentino, Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag, along with Isa Molde, Des Cheng and Cherry Nunag ready to step up and challenge the High Speed Hitters.
Meanwhile, Creamline, Petro Gazz and F2 Logistics get the luxury of rest as they brace for the semis starting Saturday, also at the Pasig arena, with the No.1 team clashing with the No. 4 and the Nos. 2 and 3 teams slugging it out for the other finals berth in a pair of best-of-three series.
Games are telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play, and SMART Live Stream and on pvl.ph.