PSL stars set to take Asia by storm

Tuesday, 09 May 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

With Foton begging off, a super team has been assembled to take Asia by storm.

The Philippine Superliga (PSL) formally announced the formation of the Rebisco-PSL Manila, a team that would represent the country in the prestigious Asian Women’s Club Championship in Oskemen, Kazakhstan from May 25 to 31.

No less than PSL president Ramon Suzara unveiled the presentation to the media, saying that the tournament will give these national pool members massive experience for two major tournaments ahead — the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Rachel Anne Daquis of Cignal, the country’s face in the international arena, leads this star-studded squad while seasoned campaigners Aiza Maizo-Pontillas of Petron and Jovelyn Gonzaga of Cignal provide much-needed veteran experience against powerhouse teams of Thailand, Japan, China and the host country.

Newly crowned UAAP champion Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics was also enlisted as well as Rhea Dimaculangan, Frances Molina and Mika Reyes of Petron, Aby Marano of F2 Logistics, Jaja Santiago and Maika Ortiz of Foton, Gen Casugod and Bia General of Generika-Ayala and Lourdes Clemente of Sta. Lucia.

The league also tapped its newest member, Denden Lazaro of Cocolife, to man the backline.

National women’s team head coach Francis Vicente of Generika-Ayala will call the shots and will be assisted by Brian Esquibel and Brian Dulay of Foton.

Suzara said he likes the composition of the team.

“It’s a pretty solid team.”
“The main target of the team is to play at the highest level. This is the first time for us to send an all-Filipino team so it’s going to be a very good exposure for them to participate in the women’s club”

Prior to the Kazakhstan joust, the team will display their talent in the “Clash of Heroes” set on May 15 at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Valuable experience

Suzara, a ranking executive of the Asian Volleyball Confederation and member of the International Volleyball Federation, said pitting the PSL stars against the giants of Asia serves as perfect exposure for future international tourneys.

The Philippines landed on Group B together with Hisamitsu Springs of reigning champion Japan, Tianjin Bohai Bank of China and Vietinbank of Vietnam.

The host club, Altay Volleyball Club of Kazakhstan, is in Group A together with Supreme Chonburi of Thailand, Sarmayeh Bank of Iran and Taiwan Power of Chinese Taipei.

“If you look at the brackets, we landed on a very tough group.”
“It’s a strong group. It’s a very good exposure for the team and preparation for the Asian Seniors and the SEA Games.”

Suzara added that the players have to be ready for the tough grind ahead.

“It’s very tough. It’s a 20-hour travel from Istanbul to Almaty to Oskemen. So the travel itself is already tough.”
“Then, we play Japan on the first day. So it’s tough. I told the players to be ready, get a lot of sleep and prepare themselves.”

Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) is expecting the National Team to come up with at least a bronze medal finish in the SEA Games and land on the upper half of the elite Asian battle, which the country will be hosting also in August.

LVPI acting president Peter Cayco said he expects the PSL stars to perform above expectation.

“We will be going there without imports.”
“But as Mr. Suzara said, the goal here is to gain experience and make an impression. This is just the start of a very long journey.”

Tall team

Vicente said he likes the composition of his team.

In fact, the idea of parading at least three six-footers in Clemente, Casugod and Santiago as well as defense-minded stalwarts in Marano, Reyes, Lazaro and General makes Rebisco-PSL All-Stars a very tough and competitive team.

“Palaban ang team na ito. We’re practicing already. Pagdating sa jelling, mas mabilis silang makaka-jell.”[/qoute]

[quote]“We just have to understand that height is a major factor in this tournament. That’s why we will be fielding a very tall team. Height is my primary consideration in assembling the team.”

He added that the experience of the team would also be a major factor.

Daquis, Gonzaga, Santiago, Reyes, Fajardo and Molina were all part of the Magnificent 7, or the seven local players who saw action in the prestigious FIVB Women’s Club Championship last year while Lazaro, Ortiz, Dimaculangan and Marano campaigned in the previous SEA Games, Clemente in the previous Asian Seniors and General in the Asian club tourney in Laguna last year.

“These players already have the experience. They already know how to compete in the international stage.”
“But still it’s not yet enough. We need to gain as many experience as we can if we want to go far. We have to get used to the international brand of game.”

Rebisco-PSL Manila will open their campaign against the Japanese on May 25 before facing the Vietnamese on May 26 and the Chinese on May 27.