by Jerome Lagunzad
Games Thursday (The Arena, San Juan City)
4:15 pm – Petron vs Sta. Lucia
7:00 pm – F2 Logistics vs Cignal
Dindin Santiago-Manabat took charge down the stretch as Foton got back at Cignal, 25-23, 27-25, 21-25, 32-30, last night to open its second-round campaign on a high note in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix at The Arena in San Juan City.
The 6-foot-3 Santiago-Manabat delivered crucial hits in the decisive set as she teamed up with Canadian Elizabeth Wendel in helping the Tornadoes overcome the HD Spikers in a nip-and-tuck affair that lasted for two hours and six minutes.
More importantly, Foton, the only two-time tournament champion in league history, racked up its second straight win and fourth overall in eight matches, moving up to solo fourth spot.
Meanwhile, Cignal failed to duplicate its marathon five-set conquest of Foton in their first-round meeting last February 27 and dropped down to the sixth spot with a 3-5 mark.
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” said Wendel, who tallied 19 points, all but two of them coming on the offensive end. “We have proven that we can dig deep and do it.
I’m glad we now have that experience before we go to the playoffs.”
Touted Trinidad and Tobago import Channon Thompson also made an impressive league debut as she laced her 25-point performance with seven emphatic blocks, giving Foton the solid defensive presence that it’s been wanting for so long.
Still, a fair share of the credit should be given to Manabat, who came through with a pair of vicious kills in the crunch, proving she’s starting to get back on her usual groove after returning from an ACL injury.
Imports Jeane Horton and Sonja Milanovic combined for 51 points that all went down the drain with Cignal’s heartbreaking loss.