Army faces PLDT in PVL Invitational semifinals opener

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PLDT Power Hitters beat short-handed Cignal HD Spikers. — PHILIPPINE STAR/JUN MENDOZA

ARMY BLACK Mamba and PLDT seek to become the last two teams to make the semifinals to possibly the first ones to clinch a finals spot as the two open semis hostilities on Tuesday in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Power Hitters caught a big break and capitalized on it by surviving the short-handed Cignal HD Spikers, their sister team, with a 25-19, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 win on Saturday.

The Lady Troopers lost their last game, to the Creamline Cool Smashers, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16, but took the last slot following the Choco Mucho Flying Titans’ painful defeat to the Petro Gazz Angels, 28-26, 25-21, 25-16, on Saturday.

They joined Creamline, Cignal and foreign teams Kobe Shinwa of Japan and King Whales of Taipei in the single-round robin semis where the top two set up a one-game title showdown.

Army and PLDT will take the first crack at that as the two face off at 4 p.m. with the winner seizing the early lead.

Army is expected to rely on its veteran squad composed of MVP candidate Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mary Jean Pabayo, Nene Bautista, Joanne Bunag and Honey Royse Tubino and newly recruited setter Ivy Perez.

PLDT, for its part, should draw strength from the inspire plays of Mika Reyes and Fiona Ceballos, who fired 14 and 13 points, in their team’s semis-clinching win over Cignal.

Both Army and PLDT are expected to make the most of their first semis appearance in the league since rejoining the pro-outfit last year. — Joey Villar