MANILA, Philippines —Every time Choco Mucho and Creamline have faced each other, the results have always been the same until now.
At the time of writing, the Cool Smashers hold a resounding 9-0 head-to-head record over the Flying Titans, but all that could change in the series that matters most: the All-Filipino Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Conference Finals of 2023.
Choco Mucho punched his ticket to the finals after defeating Cignal in four sets, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, at Philsports Arena on Tuesday and Kat Tolentino has an idea of what her team could use against an experienced team in Creamline as the best-of-three series begins Thursday.
“I think the team's maturity throughout the season will definitely help us,” said the opposing striker after finishing with 17 points.
“We gained a lot of confidence and there was growth in the last few games, working together and following coach Dante’s (Alinsunurin) system. I think those will really be the key.”
The Flying Titans certainly showed maturity in the most important part of the conference.
After losing a game to the HD Spikers in the semifinals, Choco Mucho maintained his composure and relied on the squad's maturity to win two straight victories and set up a meeting in the final with his sister team.
Sisi Rondina, who helped the Flying Titans' cause with 21 points, felt the same way about the upcoming clash with the Cool Smasher, but also said it will all come down to who wants it more.
“That will be determined by work and if we really want to win, we can do it. It will be a test of perseverance, work and patience. We know that Creamline will not back down and we won’t back down either,” the University of Santo Tomas product said in Filipino.
“We will show what we have learned and the improvements we are capable of,” he added.
Coach Dante Alinsunurin, in turn, believes he is seeing a new team compared to the squad that faltered for the Cool Smashers in the knockout round.
If Alinsunurin saw the same improvements as the Flying Titans, then “maybe” they could do the unlikely and beat the league's top team.
“Every day in training is where we change for the better. We feel like we are moving better now. Let’s continue what we’ve been doing in the game, adjust ourselves and maybe we’ll have a chance to win.”
Creamline and Choco Mucho open the All-Filipino Finals series on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena after Game 1 of the Battle for Third between Cignal and Chery Tiggo.