Petro Gazz creams PLDT for second straight PVL finals stint

Petro Gazz Angels in the PVL All-Filipino Conference Finals. –PVL PHOTO

Upon taking over in January, coach Oliver Almadro has kept telling his Petro Gazz Angels—who lost their top gun and best libero in the offseason—one thing, and that is to keep believing in themselves because they are a champion team.

On Thursday night, the Angels came up with a performance that validated that.

Dragged into a decider by PLDT in their best-of-three semifinal series in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference, the Angels were unforgiving in pulling out a 25-17, 25-23, 25-15 win at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City that lined up Petro Gazz to a shot at winning a second straight title and make Almadro a genius.

The win shoved the Angels to a race-to-two clash with powerhouse defending champion Creamline starting on Sunday, the fourth time that the two proud franchises will be battling for a title.

Seeking payback

Petro Gazz Angels' coach Oliver Almadro. –PVL PHOTO

Petro Gazz Angels’ coach Oliver Almadro. –PVL PHOTO

But this one will be special for Petro Gazz as it will try to get back at the side that dealt them a beating in the finals here last season when the Angels were under a different coach and with a stronger lineup on paper.

“I just challenged them. We always challenge these players and they accepted it and acknowledged that they can do it,” said Almadro, whose transfer from Choco Mucho at the start of the year also had its share of fanfare. “I saw the fierceness in their eyes, I saw that they really wanted to bounce back [from a Game 2 loss].”

The only tough time the Angels had against the High Speed Hitters came in the second set.

But MJ Phillips scored on crucial kills in the endgame to put that set away, before the Angels raced to a 20-9 lead in the third that snuffed the fight out of the High Speed Hitters.

Just worth it

Jonah Sabete, who helped the Petro Gazz assault with 13 kills, was emotional after the win, proof of the baggage that the team was carrying in trying to establish its own identity after losing Myla Pablo to F2 in offseason.

“I’m just so happy because this is really what we want,” Sabete said in Filipino. “This didn’t come with a lot of hard work and sacrifice and we proved to everyone that this Petro Gazz team can do it.”

Creamline, meanwhile, will come into the title series well-rested after sweeping F2 Logistics on their side of the Final Four on Tuesday.

Game 1 of the best-of-three finals is set at 6:30 p.m. with the Cool Smashers looking for a sixth championship and the Angels seeking their third and a second straight crown after topping the Reinforced Conference last December with import Lindsay Vanderweide.

Creamline beat Petro Gazz in last year’s Open Conference.

Phillips topscored with 15 points while Grethcel Soltones fired 12 hits while providing the leadership, and Rem Palma and Aiza Pontillas added nine and seven points, respectively.

Jovie Prado and Dell Palomata carried the fight for PLDT with 10 points apiece, while Mika Reyes scored seven points and Michelle Morente settled for a six-point effort.

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