Shun’s return, Foton’s prowess and Tina’s new role

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2016
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
Tina Salak was a part of the PSL Manila coaching team during the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship

Every week, we get a lot of letters from fans asking about their favorite volleyball players. Some of those letters landed on our inbox, some letters did not. So one day, we decided to open our spam folder and found a boatload of unread letters. Here are some of the questions we #RecoveredFromSpam

I only noticed recently that five Philippine Superliga teams were represented in the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila squad. Only Generika did not have players in the roster. With five of the six teams represented in the FIVB tournament, which team will have the biggest advantage in the Grand Prix?

I appreciate your observation, Greg.  You’re absolutely right. The PSL management made sure that all of its teams would be represented in the historic world tournament that’s why even if Generika doesn’t have players there, the league made sure that Lifesavers coach Francis Vicente would get to sit next to Serbian coach Moro Branislav to gain an idea on how it feels competing in a world-class competition.

Anyway, if you’re asking me which team will gain the biggest advantage due to its world championship experience, I think it’s going to be Foton. Look, Foton has only one local player in the tournament in Jaja. But the prized middle blocker had tremendous improvement after training under the watchful eyes of Japanese trainer Shun Takahashi all throughout the one-month buildup. Aside from that she displayed that she can stand her own against other world-class middle blockers.

In fact, against Pomi Casalmaggiore, the same team that claimed the European championship, Jaja was on fire, hitting a team-high 11 points, including a resounding facial on the libero who is a member of the Italian national women’s team.

Also, let us not forget that Foton would be reinforced by Stalzer and coached by Branislav, who both contributed significantly to PSL-F2 Logistics Manila’s impressive campaign in the FIVB battle.

So yes, while all teams are looking optimistic about their chances in the PSL Grand Prix after that world championship experience, my money is on Foton to repeat as champions. The Tornadoes have it all, they don’t have any reason not to figure prominently in the season-ending conference of the country’s most competitive club league.

I saw Tina Salak as part of the coaching staff of PSL-F2 Logistics Manila in the Grand Prix. What’s the reason behind it? Does it mean that Ate Tina is preparing for her new role as assistant coach of a PSL club?

Thanks for asking, Aby. I strongly agree with you on this one. Tina is headed for retirement after this conference following a very colorful career that saw the rise, the fall and the rise again of Philippine volleyball. She was part of the national team that won the silver medal in the 1995 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur as well as the squad that settled for bronze in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila.

That’s why when Tina bared that she will be retiring after her contract this season, nobody was surprised; everybody knows that it was such a well-played career for her. But we won’t miss Tina for long. She said she would try her luck in coaching and gain more experience sitting on the bench while attending FIVB coaching seminars abroad.

She’ll probably start with RC Cola-Army to serve as Kungfu Reyes’ deputy before opening her doors for other club teams.
Sources said she was drafted as part of PSL-F2 Logistics Manila to serve as mentor to Kim Fajardo. And with the way Kim played against the world’s best players, it seems that Tina played her role very, very well.

Speculations also have it that Gyzelle Sy of Far Eastern University would serve as her successor in the Lady Troopers. If that happens, it would be a win-win scenario for RC Cola-Army as Gyzelle is a savvy playmaker who has what it takes to carry a team loaded with veterans, similar to what she did when she carried Pocari Sweat to the title of the V-League All-Filipino Conference. With Tina on her ear, Gyzelle would definitely go far. It’s surely a great way for Tina to launch a coaching career.

One of the greatest mysteries in the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila squad during the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship is Shun Takahashi. He may be shy and reserved, but we find him cute. Are we going to see him again? Is there any chance for local volleyball fans to stare at his cute smile?

Juliet, it appears that you’re one of the thousands of volleyball fans who got sad when Shun and the rest of foreign players left for their respective countries two days after the FIVB tourney. I understand where you’re coming from.

Fans fell in love with Shun, not just because of his smile, but because of his patience in whipping Jaja Santiago, Kim Fajardo, Frances Molina, Jen Reyes, Rachel Anne Daquis, Mika Reyes and Jovelyn Gonzaga into fighting condition. In fact, when I saw him working on Jaja’s defense, patiently instill the Japanese way of blocking and footwork on the Foton superstar, I was impressed. I realized that he is the trainer the country needs. After all, he is young and patient, making it easier for local players to connect and absorb the Asian volleyball technology.

But after the world championship, Shun left for Tokyo where he would take a connecting flight to his hometown in Kumamoto. After a brief rest, Shun would return to Tokyo to train the all-Japan university team, a pool of young players where members of the Japanese national youth team are being drawn.
A prominent source, however, said there is a good chance that Shun would return to the country.

The source, a prominent insider in local volleyball circuit, said Shun and a topnotch PSL club team is already nearing an agreement where he will serve as trainer during the Grand Prix. In fact, the club is willing to provide all of Shun’s requirements and it seems that salary would never be a problem.

If the deal pushes through and Shun manages to return to the country, not just the club, but the entire Philippine volleyball, would be the biggest beneficiary as Shun, together with Moro Branislav, would be very accessible to sit down with Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. leadership and discuss the national team program for next year.

Imagine Shun working with Jaja, Kim, Ara, Mika, Alyssa, Myla, Jovelyn, Rachel and all of the brightest stars of Philippine volleyball all year long in preparation for two important tournaments: the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur and the AVC Asian Seniors Women’s Championship, which the country will host next year.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.