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MANILA, Philippines – In a highly anticipated showdown, the last four standing square off in the 2023 Shakey’s Super League (SSL) National Invitationals on Friday, August 4, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Reigning UAAP champion La Salle locks horns with rival University of Santo Tomas in the main game at 4 pm, right after the 2 pm opening semifinal duel between UAAP bronze medalist Adamson and surprise NCAA squad Perpetual Help.
Winners march on to the best-of-three finale next week for a shot at being the first SSL national champion.
La Salle cruised past Mindanao’s Jose Maria College Foundation, 25-18, 25-14, 25-19, while UST withstood Luzon qualifier Enderun Colleges, 25-13, 25-16, 21-25, 25-14 – setting the stage for the two rivals after also figuring in the UAAP semifinals last summer.
The Lady Spikers, given a perfect run so far without a lone set yielded, expectedly loom as the heavy favorites but they are wary of the sharper fangs by the vengeful Golden Tigresses in the knockout match.
UST was the only team to beat La Salle in the UAAP Season 85 for an almost perfect championship run in 16 matches.
“Ibang labanan na dito sa semis. Sabi ko lang sa team, hindi pwedeng ganito ‘yung lalaruin namin. Kailangan i-angat yung level ng play pagdating ng semis,” said La Salle deputy Noel Orcullo.
(It’s a different battle in the semis. I just told the team we can’t play the same way. We need to improve our level of play in the semis.)
“Actually, new breed of players na rin sila pero isa lang makikita mo sa La Salle na ‘di nagbabago, ‘yung tangkad ng mga players. Sa amin, meron din kaso karamihan maliliit pero lalaban kami,” answered coach Kungfu Reyes as UST braces for the La Salle twin towers of Thea Gagate and Shevana Laput.
(They have a new breed of players, but with La Salle there’s one thing that will never change, their tall players. We have smaller players but we’ll fight.)
On the other hand, Perpetual and Adamson are not to be left behind in offering an equally explosive battle especially with the Lady Altas riding on a huge momentum off an upset over NCAA champion College of St. Benilde to gatecrash the SSL Final Four.
“Nakikita ko na sa kanila ngayon ‘yung puso at dugong Perpetual. Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘yung tapang at tiwala sa semis (I hope they continue to show the same courage and trust in the semis),” said coach Sandy Rieta after the Lady Altas’ 25-16, 20-25, 28-26, 16-25, 15-12 win to eliminate the Lady Blazers in the quarterfinals.
Adamson, as the only other team to not drop a set in the tourney next to La Salle, is ready for the Perpetual challenge for a serious finale bid.
“We’ll be prepared. We’re hoping na maipakita pa rin namin ‘yung consistency o kaya mahigitan pa namin dito sa semis (We’re hoping to show our consistency here in the semis),” said coach JP Yude, whose wards drubbed CESAFI champion University of San Jose-Recoletos, 25-9, 25-11, 25-23.
All SSL matches – presented by Eurotel as the official hotel and Victory Liner as office transport provider, and in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) – are accessible across all platforms live and on-demand with Plus Network Digital Media Services, CNN Philippines, Solar Sports Entertainment and TAP Sports serving as media partners.
The historic National Invitationals are showing live in all Shakey’s branches nationwide as they’re also backed by Mikasa, Team Rebel Sports, Summit Bottled Water, Genius Sports, Potato Corner, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar, and R&B Tea; and supported by Boy Tuikinhoy of Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc., Alex Adeva of Northern Mindanao Volleyball Association of Coaches and Referees and San Juan Red Cross chapter. – Rappler.com