MANILA, Philippines—Creamline kept its title-retention bid alive as it withstood Petro Gazz in Game 2, 18-25, 25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 15-6, to force a rubber match in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference Finals on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Tots Carlos, Michele Gumabao, and Jema Galanza stepped up when it mattered most for the Cool Smashers to stop the Angels from sweeping the series.
Creamline failed to complete its Game 2 win in the fourth set but the Cool Smashers quickly got their acts together in the decider as the trio of Carlos, Gumabao, and Galanza, who are filling in the big shoes of injured three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez, joined hands to unleash eight straight points for a 10-2 start.
The Angels trimmed it down to six, 12-6, but Ced Domingo took charge by scoring the last three points in the deciding set.
Creamline and Petro Gazz clash in a do-or-die Game 3 on Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at the same venue.
“It all boiled down to the mindset, not the skills. The team responded to the challenge and they played well in five sets. They showed the heart of a champion team. They didn’t give up,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino.
Gumabao unleashed a game-high 21 points built on 15 attacks, four blocks, and two aces to go with 14 digs. Carlos delivered 20 points and 21 excellent receptions, while Galanza chipped in 17 points.
Domingo finished with 14 points, as setter Jia De Guzman paced the team with 30 excellent sets.
“Going into the fifth set, I can see in the eyes of my teammates, coaches, and even the supporters that we will fight whatever happens. Because in training we’re not hesitant and we help each other,” said De Guzman in Filipino. “We need to apply all the training we had for years because that will bring out the character of the team. And at the end of the game, it paid off.”
The Cool Smashers bounced back from a 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 24-26 loss to the Angels in Game 1.
Remy Palma powered the Angels with 16 points off 12 attacks and four blocks. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas had 15 points, while MJ Phillips and Jonah Sabete added 10 markers.
Petro Gazz will have another chance to win its first All-Filipino title in Game 3.
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