PSL GRAND PRIX 2016 : FOTON VS RC COLA ARMY

Most of my friends shifted to mirrorless and they have been trying to convince me to do the same.  The size and weight had been one of the more compelling reasons for making the switch from digital slr to mirrorless system.  Of course, it is hard to ignore the sexy retro look of the Fujifilm cameras.  Since I do mostly travel photography… or rather mostly use my camera when I travel, having a light weight gear makes a whole lot of difference.  That’s actually me trying to justify to my kuripot self why I need to get an X-T10 or the the X-T1 (aside from the fact that the X-Pro2 and the X-T1 are way beyond my budget).

If I get to sell my current gear, sige, I’ll go mirrorless. I told myself.

As I went over my stuff, camera body, lenses, etc., listing them down and taking photos of each one so I can put them up for sale, I suddenly had separation anxiety.  i know, I should not get attach with inert objects.  But Duckie is not just a camera, she’s my 2nd travel buddy.  Though lately, it has been Hiro (Fujifilm X30) who goes with me even to the office.

Maybe… one last ride.

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Jovelyn Gonzaga up against the towers of Foton

I seized the chance to tag along with pro photographer Winston Baltazar, who was patient enough to give me a one on one session on sports photography during last Saturday’s Asics Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix games.  Didn’t get to watch the much of the first game between Generika and Cignal since I arrived towards the end of the third set.  Generika Life Savers ended the match in the fourth set, finally bagging their first win this season.  But I got to warm up a bit since I haven’t been using my DSLR nor do I get the opportunity to shoot sports for sometime.

I always use my Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 on a Canon 70D whenever I shoot sports.  But I brought a long instead a Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3, which I borrowed form a friend… to save space in my luggage.  I never invested in good and expensive lenses since photography was something I do to de-stress or draw inspiration from when I find myself in a bind.  My on cam lens (Sigma) wasn’t fast enough for shooting indoor sports.  I had to set my ISO was at 2500 to 3500 with shutter speed at 1/400, which wasn’t fast enough wither.  For the first time I, I was able to shoot from the four sides of the arena and at different levels.  Thanks to Winston, who had an “all access pass” to the venue being one of the official photographers for Sports TV5.

Foton Tornadoes was coming from a loss against F2 Logistics, their first loss after six straight wins.  They were looking to bounce back against the veteran laden RC Cola Army.  The match also marked the return of Jaja Santiago who had missed several due to the 12-day training in Japan with her collegiate team, National University.  The game was close all through out with the third set even extending to 29-27.  Foton emerged as the victor after five nail biting sets.

Usher takes a swing over the RC defense
Usher takes a swing over the RC defense
Salak sneaks one past Santiago-Manabat
Salak sneaks one past Santiago-Manabat
Dimaculanga to a running Ortiz
Dimaculanga to a running Ortiz
The Captain reminding her team to stay focused in the game.
The Captain reminding her team to stay focused in the game.
Tubino going against the double block
Tubino going against the double block
Acevedo alternating with General for defensive duties
Acevedo alternating with General for defensive duties
Stalzer skying over the defense.
Stalzer skying over the defense.
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Santiago top scoring with 30 points

The ever intense Foton coach, Moro Branislav was equally exciting to watch as he risked being called a technical after he entered the playing court.  His team was assessed with a rotation error in the latter part of the third set.  Disagreeing with the call, impot/team captain Lindsay Stalzer asked for clarification from the referee when Coach Branislav wanted to join in the conversation.  The second referee had to escort him back to the sidelines.  The referee earned playful jeers from some of the audience during the stoppage.

"Ano ba talaga, Ate?"
“Ano ba talaga, Ate?”
"Parang awa mo, Coach. 'Wag ka nang sumali. Noseblee na, si Lindsay pa lang."
“Nosebleed na sa kakaexplain kay Lindsay pa lang. Parang awa mo, Coach. ‘Wag ka nang sumali. “
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“Wala akong kinalaman diyan. Number 9 daw.”

It was nice to see Dindin and Jaja playing for the same team again after playing for one season with the National University Lady Bulldogs in the UAAP.  The older Santiago may not yet be in top form yet after she gave birth to her baby girl but she is still a threat at the net but it will be just a matter of time.  Mean while, Jaja remains to be a headache for other teams as she continues to improve her game.

The towering Santiago sisters
The towering Santiago sisters

How do you stop a Jaja Santiago? especially when you have three other players standing above six feet inside the court with her.  Santiago, now playing as an opposite spiker, had 22 kills, five blocks and three aces to finish with 30 points while import Lindsay Stalzer had 24 points.

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Foton’s tall line-up. (clockwise) Usher (6’1″), Ortiz (5’10”), Stalzer (6’1″), Santiago-Manabat (6’2″), Dimaculangan (5’6″), and Santiago (6’6″)

Team chemistry is the least of Foton’s problem.  The players evidently enjoy playing with each other.  Maybe the only problem if you’re part of this team is when do you get playing time.  Explosive wing attackers EJ Laure, Cherry Rondina, and Patty Orendain have to cheer from the sidelines while waiting for their turn to pinch hit for their starters who all seem to be doing well at this stage of the tournament.

"Pasok na po ba ako, Coach?"
“Pasok na po ba ako, Coach? Kaya ko pong lumipad ng kasing taas ni Ate Jaja, may cartwheel pang kasama.”

It was thrilling match and I enjoyed it immensely especially because Foton won.  But I love shooting the game more.  I learned to shoot sports by reading articles and looking at photos online.  Sometimes I get lucky and experienced photographers would answer my query in their blogs or social media accounts.  Being able to learn something new from someone who has been doing sports photography for a decade or so, and looking at it from another perspective made it even more of an experience.

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Holst’s served her way to seven aces
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Stalzer steered Foton to the title last year over then defending champion Petron

I’ve been looking at mirrorless cameras or (at least) an upgrade for my Fujifilm X30.  After the game, I found myself looking for an excuse to get a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

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