MANILA, Philippines – The Choco Mucho Flying Titans bucked a five-set challenge by the desperate Army-Black Mamba Lady Troopers and survived to snap a two-game skid, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-27, 15-11, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre on Thursday, February 23.
Scoring machine Kat Tolentino topscored with 20 points, while Isa Molde scored 19 as Choco Mucho rose to a 2-2 record.
The story of the game, however, was two-time NCAA Finals MVP Regine Arocha, who stepped up with 13 points as the Flying Titans sat out starters Bea de Leon and Des Cheng due to sickness.
With a 16-game losing streak looming above their heads, the Lady Troopers left it all on the court after a 27-25 fourth-set heist, as they threatened Choco Mucho in the decider with a 6-0 run, capped by an Ivy Perez ace to get within 11-12 after going down 7 early on.
However, all it took in the end was a powerful Tolentino off-the-block shot to reignite the Flying Titans’ drive, as a Molde spike and one more Tolentino crosscourt kill completed the 3-0 finishing kick to finally end the back-and-forth affair.
“Of course, we got lucky despite our situation. I just told the team, let’s take it slow. Whatever we wanted to happen in the court, we saw that today, and our blockings got a little bit better, so I guess that’s why we had a better defensive showing,” said Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
Jeanette Villareal paced the Army in yet another sorry defeat with 19 points off 15 attacks and 4 blocks, while Royse Tubino tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 12 excellent digs, and 12 excellent receptions.
PLDT survives Petro Gazz in 5-set war to break 2-1 standings tie
Meanwhile, the PLDT High Speed Hitters won their third straight game after barely surviving the Petro Gazz Angels in the day’s second five-set marathon, 21-25, 31-29, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13, to rise to a 3-1 record, breaking a standings tie.
Mich Morente had her best game so far in a PLDT uniform with 21 points and 15 excellent digs, while the rising Mean Mendrez likewise scored 21 off 18 attacks, 2 aces, and 1 block in the 2-hour, 42-minute showdown.
Early Best Libero candidate Kath Arado yet again strengthened her case with 40 excellent digs and 20 excellent receptions as MJ Phillips paced the heartbreaking loss with 24 points off 18 attacks and a conference-best 6 blocks – her best outing since recovering from a shoulder injury.
PLDT looks to make it four straight wins as it takes on the Akari Chargers next on Tuesday, February 28, 6:30 pm, at the PhilSports Arena, while Army-Black Mamba’s skid-snapping quest resumes at 6:30 pm with a tough challenge against the Creamline Cool Smashers.
Choco Mucho sits out for a week before taking on the Cignal HD Spikers on Thursday, March 2, 4 pm, also at PhilSports, while Petro Gazz also takes the same seven-day break to lick its wounds and get ready for the F2 Cargo Movers at 6:30 pm. – Rappler.com
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