Are local teams ready for Kobe Shinwa?

A shroud of mystery covers Kobe Shinwa Women’s University when it marches to the final round of the Belo Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference starting this Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Veteran coaches Shaq Delos Santos of Petron and George Pascua of Cignal admitted that they are clueless on the fancied Japanese squad, which will be coming in as the fourth team in the race for the crown of this season-opening conference.

Delos Santos said they tried their best to search online for any available video of the Japanese squad in action, but their quest yielded negative result.

On the same note, Pascua admitted that he also doesn’t have any idea, although he knows that the Japanese play Asian brand of volleyball to perfection using their signature speed, accuracy, precision and discipline.

Both Pascua and Delos Santos have good experience against the Japanese.

In fact, Pascua called the shots when Petron battled Japanese powerhouse Hiroshima Springs in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Phu Ly, Vietnam in 2015. Delos Santos served as his chief assistant while Edjett Mabbayad, who is now with Foton, was his trainer.

[quote]“We have no idea how it plays. We’re looking for any available videos online, but we can’t get anything. I guess we’ll just do the scouting when they arrive here.”[/quote]

Kobe Shinwa will be arriving on Tuesday to grace a press conference before plunging into action against Foton on Thursday, Cignal on Friday and Petron on Saturday in what promises to be an explosive display of Asian volleyball talent.

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Foton in trouble

Like Petron and Cignal, Foton also finds itself in trouble against Kobe Shinwa.

Foton coach Moro Branislav said he has yet to see the Japanese side despite his rich international experience.

Although a local university team in Ateneo de Manila faced it in a friendly match in Osaka earlier this year, Branislav said he has yet to watch any footage of the squad in action against tougher competition.

[quote]“This is a very big problem for Foton.”

“Although I know that this Japanese team from Kobe is very good, I have no idea on how it plays. Let’s see what will happen. We will do our best to beat them.”[/quote]

Adding to the Tornadoes’ woes is the injury of star spiker Dindin Manabat.

Manabat suffered a Grade 2 MCL strain and a partial ACL tear during their marathon match against Sta. Lucia last week, a development that will sideline her for the rest of the conference.

[quote]“At this moment, her health is very important.”

“Dindin is our top spiker. But she was diagnosed with a knee injury so I guess we have to keep her at the sidelines for the very important match. That’s another problem for us.”[/quote]

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Major advantage

Pascua, however, found a silver lining against the heavily favored Japanese.

He said they will bank on their well of experience as Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino and Rachel Anne Daquis served as major forces when RC Cola-Army overcame the juniors national team of Thailand in last year’s edition of this season-opening conference.

Gonzaga, in fact, emerged as Most Valuable Player.

[quote]“That will be our advantage.”

“Jovelyn, Rachel and Royse are experienced when it comes to competing against international players. That will be our edge against the Japanese team.”[/quote]

Still, the HD Spikers can’t afford to be complacent.

[quote]“We still have to work hard as a team. If we can execute well and adjust to their system right away, I think winning over the Japanese is very possible.”[/quote]