Creamline, F2 Logistics begin semis showdown
BY NIEL VICTOR C. MASOY
The Manila Times
THE much anticipated Creamline versus F2 Logistics showdown will jumpstart the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) AllFILIPINO CONFERENCE SEMIfiNALS TODAY, MARCH 18, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. The defending champs Cool Smashers and the Cargo Movers collide in Game 1 of their best-ofthree series at 4 p.m. Creamline finished the elimination round as the top seed team with a 7-1 slate and 22 points. The Cool Smashers enter the playoffs with a four-game winning run. The latest of that streak was a 25-17, 25-22, 27-29, 25-8 triumph over Akari last Tuesday in Iloilo. Despite the absence of team captain and superstar Alyssa Valdez, who still can’t play in the semifinals as she continues to recover from her knee injury, the Cool Smashers looked formidable just the same in the tournament as Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao and Tots Carlos take turns in leading the team with Jia de Guzman orchestrating Creamline’s offense. “We prepared without Ly (Alyssa) before the start of this season and as of now she still can’t play. We’re just going to continue our preparations everyday in our training. Let’s see which team we will face in the semis,” said Creamliine head coach Sherwin Meneses. The only game that Creamline was really challenged in this conference was a five-set thrilling setback against the very team it is facing in the semis, the fourth seeded F2 Logistics. F2 Logistics ended the elimination round with a 6-2 slate and 16 points, enough to make the semis for the first time in the league. The Cargo Movers defeated the Cool Smashers 23-25, 2518, 16-25, 25-23, 16-14 in their elimination round duel on February 18. They also defeated the Cool Smashers in their only other encounter in the league last year. While Creamline is clicking on all cylinders heading into the final four, F2 holds the mental edge, knowing that it is capable of defeating the powerhouse crowd favorite. Powered by Kianna Dy and Ivy Lacsina, F2 Logistics is fresh from a 25-15, 20-25, 25-20, 25-13 victory over Army Black Mamba last Saturday. The Cargo Movers might not be in full strength against the Cool Smashers, though, as their ace player Myla Pablo is doubtful to play today after suffering cramps in their 25-23, 25-19, 13-25, 25-22 win over the Choco Mucho Flying Titans on March 7. Pablo did not play in F2’s game against Army but Cargo Movers head coach Regine Diego is ‘hopeful’ that the outside hitter can suit up against Creamline albeit they are taking a day-to-day approach. At press time, there is still no word on whether or not Pablo will play in Game 1 of the F2Creamline series. Meanwhile, Petro Gazz and PLDT also start their best-of-three series at 6:30 p.m. The Oliver Almadro-coached Petro Gazz finished at second place in the eliminations with a 6-2 card, tied with the Rald Ricafort-mentored and third seed PLDT in win-loss record but outpointed the latter 19-18. It was the High Speed Hitters, however, who came out on top against the Angels in their five-set elimination round battle 21-25, 31-29, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13 on February 23 when Ricafort faced the very team he led to the 2022 Reinforced Conference championship.