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PLDT braces for tough grind ahead

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Games today:

(Philsports Arena)

4 p.m. — Farm Fresh vs Nxled

6 p.m. — PLDT vs Strong Group

Unless its players suddenly fall ill or get out of synch, PLDT is expected to rack up victory No. 7 as it faces winless Strong Group Tuesday in a bid to boost its semifinal drive in the final stretch of the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference preliminaries at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The High Speed Hitters are coming into the 8 p.m. clash with the Athletics armed with a four-match winning streak as they brace for rougher outings against Chery Tiggo, Cignal and Creamline in the windup to the prelims.

The leaderboard is tightly packed with Choco Mucho leading the pack with a 7-1 and PLDT just behind with a 6-1 mark.

Creamline and Petro Gazz are tied for third at 6-2, and Chery Tiggo and Cignal are just behind with similar 5-2 slates, creating a fierce battle for the semifinal spots in the league’s concluding three weeks.

Despite the disparity in their rankings, PLDT coach Rald Ricafort is expected to approach the match against Strong Group with a full-strength lineup, possibly trying with new player combinations to bolster the team’s depth as they prepare for the decisive matches ahead.

PLDT faces Chery Tiggo on 16 April, meets Cignal on 20 April before squaring off with Creamline on 25 April.

Securing a sweep is paramount for PLDT and its fellow contenders as the PVL points system will take effect to break any ties for the last semis berth with six teams currently in a tight battle for the coveted seats.

Choco Mucho also leads the point tally with 21 total points followed by Petro Gazz with 19, Creamline with 18, PLDT with 17, Cignal with 16 and Chery Tiggo with 14, underscoring the importance of every match remaining in the elims of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

PLDT will likely rely on key players like Savi Davison, Erika Santos, Majoy Baron, Fiola Ceballos and Dell Palomata to overpower Strong Group, which has yet to nail the elusive win despite the efforts of Dolly Verzosa, Souzan Raslan, Andrea Rebleza, Joy Onofre and Sheeka Espinosa.

Meanwhile, Farm Fresh and Nxled, toting identical 2-5 cards, tangle in the 4 p.m. opener with both sides eager for a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

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