(FilOil EcoOil Center)
4:00 p.m. — Creamline vs Cignal
6:30 p.m. — Petro Gazz vs Choco Mucho
Sister-teams Creamline and Choco Mucho march into battle facing separate foes with the same goal of snatching back-to-back wins in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at the FilOil EcoOil Center in San Juan.
The Cool Smashers open the double-header playdate at 4 p.m. against the Cignal HD Spikers followed by the 6:30 p.m. encounter of the Flying Titans and the Petro Gazz Angels.
Creamline and Choco Mucho along with F2 Logistics and Chery Tiggo opened their respective campaigns in the season-opening tournament with a bang.
Despite missing the services of skipper Alyssa Valdez due to a knee injury, the Cool Smashers easily hurdled the Angels, 25-28, 25-20, 25-22, last Saturday behind Ced Domingo, Michele Gumabao, Tots Carlos and Jeanette Panaga, who all finished in double figures.
Meanwhile, the HD Spikes are coming off a 25-27, 19-25, 22-25, defeat at the hands of Chery Tiggo last Tuesday.
But, all eyes will be on the main game when the Flying Titans face their former coach Oliver Almadro for the first time since the mentor resigned from his post midway through the last year’s Reinforced Conference citing his intentions of focusing on Ateneo de Manila University’s women’s volleyball program.
He eventually signed with Reinforced Conference champion Petro Gazz.
Interestingly, it will also be the first time that Almadro and new Choco Mucho coach Dante Alinsunurin – both former national men’s team mentors – will face off in a professional women’s club league after their storied rivalry in men’s competitions.
While Almadro struggled in his first game with his new club missing JM Phillips due to a shoulder injury, the Flying Titans under the system of Alinsunurin cruised to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-20, win over Akari.
Alinsunurin thinks that the Flying Titans will have a good advantage chemistry-wise compared to the Angels, who made a major revamp not only on their system but also on their roster after letting go of veteran spiker Myla Pablo and other key role players.
“I think Akari and Petro Gazz are in the same situation of rebuilding. So I guess in terms of playing as a team Choco Mucho has the advantage,” Alinsunurin said.
“But of course, it’s important that we execute what we wanted to do inside the court.”
Choco Mucho will again rely on Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon and Isa Molde, who all scored in double digits in their first game, to deliver the goods alongside Des Cheng, seter Deanna Wong and defense specialist Denden Lazaro-Revilla.
Almadro, on the other hand, hopes that Phillips, the reigning Reinforced Conference Best Middle Blocker, would be able to see action to boost their chances of bouncing back from a previous setback.
“Hopefully, MJ will be able to play. I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Familiar with the tendencies and skills of his former players, Almadro would try to use them to Petro Gazz’s advantage.
“They’re a very strong team. And I can see, they’re using the same first six. That’s it. They’re a very talented team. So, we will work hard, we will prepare and let’s see where it goes. I hope the Lord is giving me strength and wisdom for that next game,” he said.
With Phillips still a game-time decision, the Angels will have to squeeze out more from