It’s going to be an uphill climb for Petron when it tries to defend its crown in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference starting this Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center.
After losing the core of Any Marano, Rachel Anne Daquis, Dindin Manabat and Fille Cayetano, the Tri-Activ Spikers will be marching with a new that features Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Bang Pineda and CJ Rosario, who was tapped as the second overall pick in the recent PSL Annual Rookie Draft.
But it will not be a walk in the park for the reigning champion as the rest of the field also beefed up their respective rosters.
Foton, which spoiled Petron’s three-peat run when it won the PSL Grand Prix last conference, added more offensive muscle when it recruited EJ Laure and Cherry Rondina from UST and Carol Cerveza from La Salle as well as veterans Rhea Dimaculangan and Maika Ortiz while keeping the core of Jaja Santiago, Angeli Araneta and Patty Orendain.
F2 Logistics also bolstered its roster as it acquired Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Ara Galang and the entire core of reigning UAAP champion La Salle to team up with Cha Cruz, Aby Marano and Paneng Mercado.
Three-time champion RC Cola-Army, of course, remains as the team-to-beat as it will again parade the core of Royse Tubino, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Nene Bautista and Rachel Anne Daquis – the league’s Most Valuable Player during Petron’s championship run in the All-Filipino Conference last year.
“Winning the (All-Filipino) title will be very difficult this year. All teams are very strong.”
“I like my team now. We’re more aggressive because we got a little younger. But then again, with the rest of the field improving tremendously, we have to double – even triple – our effort if we want to go far in this tournament.”
Also presenting a strong lineup are Cignal, Standard Insurance-Navy, Generika and Amy’s Kitchen.
The HD Spikers will parade the nucleus of NCAA champion College of Saint Benilde featuring Djanel Cheng, Jeanette Panaga and Janine Navarro while the Corvettes will be banking on Pau Soriano and Norie Jane Diaz.
Meanwhile, the Life Savers will have a veteran playmaker in Rubie de Leon and young guns Ria Meneses, Jen Casugod and Alex Cabanos while Amy’s Spikers will lean on Coleen Bravo, Cindy Imbo and Lourdes Clemente for firepower.