2 p.m. – UPHSD vs SSC-R (For third)
4 p.m. – ADMU vs UST (Finals, Game 1)
Ateneo and UST clash in the opener of the finals of the ninth Shakey’s V-League Presented by SMART with so much at stake in the best-of-three series – the former looking to keep the crown and the latter seeking to restore a winning tradition.
The Lady Eagles beat the Tigresses in four in their first and only face-off in the league’s season-opening conference, the highlight of their 10-game sweep of the elims, all the way to the quarters and the Final Four. And coach Roger Gorayeb wants no less than a championship to validate their claim as the best in the league.
“As I said, all our hard work would be nothing if we would not be able to win the championship,” said Gorayeb in Filipino.
The Lady Eagles are the slight favorites to win it all, starting with today’s match set at 4 p.m. at The Arena in San Juan, with power-hitters Dzi Gervacio, Alyssa Valdez, Fille Cainglet and Thai reinforcement Lithawat Kesinee expected to further raise the level of their games along with setter Jem Ferrer and libero Denden Lazaro.
But Gorayeb and the Lady Eagles remain wary of the Tigresses, winner of six championships before UST decided to take a leave following the graduation of its key players. UST ruled the first conference in 2010 season, behind then-coach Shaq delos Santos.
But coach Odjie Mamon has whipped up a championship-caliber team with this batch of Judy Caballejo, Maika Ortiz, Maruja Banaticla, setter Rhea Dimaculangan and libero Jan Dusaran with Thai Utaiwan Kaensing and fellow guest player and former MVP Mary Jean Balse providing the needed poise and experience.
Still, Mamon admits his wards need to outdo themselves to beat a team as tough and solid as Ateneo, which defeated Adamson to capture last year’s crown in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel.
“For this series, I will motivate them to overachieve. Who knows, we can beat Ateneo,” said Mamon.
Meanwhile, San Sebastian and Perpetual Help begin their own best-of-three series for third at 2 p.m., to be followed by the presentation of the conference’s individual awardees.
The two matches can be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph and will be aired tomorrow (Monday) starting at 7 p.m. on AKTV-13, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
The final is actually a duel of the league’s top spiking (UST) and blocking (Ateneo) teams with the Tigresses also tops in serves and reception and the Lady Eagles emerging as the top-setting squad.
Ranged against a team boasting of a number of power-hitters and blockers, Mamon hopes Balse will be in her best form after sustaining a sprained knee during their semis series with the Lady Stags.
Banaticla and Dusaran are also expected to bounce back from their disappointing showing in the Final Four where the Tigresses went through a wringer to stop the Lady Stags in sudden death.
Banaticla failed to score in twin digits in their last two games, while Dusaran has failed to keep up to the relentless attacks by the Stags in Game Two of the Final Four.
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