Renewed rivalry: All or Nothing for F2 Logistics and Petron

For the past three seasons, F2 Logistics and Petron have squared off in the finals of Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) six straight times — a record-best in the 6-year old league.

It was almost like a tradition for the two bitter rivals and PSL giants to meet in the championship arena.

In a stunning twist of fate, though, Cignal — revamped with the arrival of Alohi Robins-Hardy and return of Jovelyn Gonzaga — broke with tradition and booted the Blaze Spikers out of title contention last All Filipino Conference, putting an end to a six-conference long saga.

With a less-experienced HD Spikers as rival, the Cargo Movers went on to sweep the finals series en route to championship as their favorite finals opponent settled for bronze.

But like soulmates who always find each other, F2 Logistics and Petron found their way back to one another as they once again set a Finals date — this time in the 2019 PSL Invitationals Cup.

The Cargo Movers and the Blaze Spikers are headed for their seventh gold medal clash when they march to the winner-takes-all Finals tomorrow, 6 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig.

According to history, a title duel between these two could mean top-notch action and series extensions. In fact, 4-out-of-six of their finals meet-up ended in rubber matches.

This time around, though, there will be limited time for them to regroup and recover and no chance at all for last-ditch efforts to force a decider as this conference’s finals showdown is a winner-takes-all.

It’s a killed-or-be killed situation. A survival of the fittest. A one-time title fight.

HISTORY AT STAKE FOR F2 LOGISTICS

Since the start of their partnership in 2016, head coach Ramil de Jesus and F2 Logistics have racked up four PSL titles — one each from the last four seasons.

With this milestone, the Cargo Movers have become one of the most successful teams in the league for the last half-decade with a total of 10 podium finishes.

But while it is easy to say that they can do almost anything, the reigning champions have yet to make a successful title defense bid.

De Jesus and his wards were crowned 2016 All Filipino and 2017 Grand Prix champions only to be dethroned both a year later by Petron.

Now, with a chance to make history anew, F2 Logistics is tipped to go all-out behind its stacked and complete lineup.

Back to form after riding the bench for three weeks nursing an injury, Kalei Mau will be at the helm of the charge anew as Ara Galang and Kim Dy help in scoring.

Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili, standouts of the recently-concluded 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix, will lead the team’s defensive efforts as Kim Fajardo orchestrates the offense while skipper Aby Maraño provides the leadership.

Will it be a repeat of pattern for the Cargo Movers or can they finally change the sequence?

A SHOT FOR REDEMPTION

With seven indoor conference titles under its belt, Petron is easily the winningest team in the league. Whether they win this conference or not, they will remain the league’s most bemedaled team.

But for the Blaze Spikers, this is more than just adding feather to their caps — it’s redemption.

Having missed the finals last conference, the Shaq delos Santos-mentored spikers are leaving no stones unturned in their bid for redemption.

Petron will rally behind Sisi Rondina, the conference best scorer, along with steady scorers Ces Molina and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas.

Manning the middle, Chloe Cortez and Remy Palma are tasked to supply net defense as Denden Lazaro keep the ball from hitting their side of the court.

Setter Rhea Dimaculangan, who has returned to action after recovering from injury, could also be starting anew for the Blaze Spikers, who relied on Angelica Legacion’s playmaking during Dimaculangan’s absence.

Can the Blaze Spikers dethrone their rival and redeem themselves?

(Images from Facebook/Philippine SuperLiga and F2 Logistics)

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