March 29, 2023

Cignal steps up sweep drive vs Cotabato

Cignal looks beyond hurdling Cotabato for the third straight time as it shoots for the first of two wins it needs to complete an imposing sweep of the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum tonight.

Game One of the best-of-three finals is set at 5;30 p.m. with the talent-laden HD Spikers setting out as the heavy favorites after shutting down the Cotabato Spikers in the elims and then thwarting them in four in the semifinals last Monday.

Those victories, along with their equally lopsided triumphs over the rest, keyed their dominant run from the elims to the semis – 12 games in counting – with the fired-up HD Spikers going all-out for the last two.

But Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor isn’t about to take any chances, vowing to further work on their cohesion and check on their slips after committing 32 errors in their last game that enabled the Cotabato Spikers to drag them into a four-set duel before the latter yielded a 25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23 loss last Monday.

That also paved the way for Cotabato’s grabbing the other finals berth via tiebreak against the Iloilo D’Navigators.

"We will study and work on our errors. We will definitely go back to the drawing board and pag-aralan namin kung paano sila ulit tatalunin," said Clamor.

For Cotabato top spiker Jau Umandal, their lone set win and a tight fourth-set skirmish, showed the HD Spikers aren’t that invincible.

"Kaya. Actually, kaya talaga. Kukunin lang talaga sa tiyaga, pasensiya saka tiyaga," said Umandal on defeating the HD Spikers. 

But to beat them, the Cotabato Spikers must slow down Marck Espejo, JP Bugaoan, Wendel Miguel and Ysay Marasigan with the HD Spikers also boasting of a band of second-stringers ready to step up and deliver at any given time.

Umandal also needs to draw the best from Wewe Medina, Rex Intal, Madz Gampong, and Fil-Am Steven Rotter to pull off a big reversal.

Meanwhile, Imus and Iloilo likewise start their best-of-three playoff for the bronze at 3 p.m.

The AJAA Spikers have beaten the D'Navigators twice in the conference but the latter are in for a big rebound for a crack at a third place finish.

Bannering Imus’ charge are Hero Austria and Kim Malabunga even as head coach Sammy Acaylar bared that Bryan Bagunas will finally re-join the team after helping lift WinStreak to the Top League title in Taiwan.

But Iloilo has the young but explosive Jade Disquitado, who fired 30 points against Imus in their four-set win last Monday. He also scored a season-high 32 points against the AJAA Spikers in the elims.

Games are telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play, SMART Live Stream and