PSL-F2 Logistics Manila ready yet?

The FIVB Women’s Club World Championship promises an explosive, slam-bang affair when it fires off this Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. Composed of the country’s best and brightest local players, the home team – PSL-F2 Logistics Manila – is in for a stormy journey as the world’s best club teams from Turkey, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and Thailand will march into the warzone for pride, honor and glory.

PSL-F2 Logistics Manila landed in Group A, sending it to a direct collision with South American supremo Rexona-Sesc Rio, European powerhouse Pomi Casalmaggiore and reigning champion Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul.

It needs to win at least a game to advance to the next round. After that, the qualifiers in the other group composed of the returning VakifBank Istanbul, Volero Zurich, Hisamitsu Springs Kobe and Asian giant Bangkok Glass will test the home team’s mettle.

The Brazilians will parade the superstars of the world in Gabi, Juicely, Carol and Anne Bujis, while prolific American Carli Lloyd and Serbian Jovana Stevanovic will carry the torch for the Italians. Of course, the stars of reigning champion from Turkey needs no introduction as everybody knows the firepower of Tijana Boskovic, Tatiana Kosheleva and Jordan Larson.

So yes, it’s really a tough task. Nothing will be easy. And PSL-F2 Logistics Manila head coach Moro Branislav knows that.

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!

Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!

Not yet

A seasoned globetrotter, Branislav knows international volleyball like the back of his hand.

In fact, he started his career as a young apprentice in Yugoslavia before blossoming into one of the brightest coaching minds in Europe. His last tour of duty prior to landing in the Philippines was in North Korea, the hermit kingdom which he patiently propelled back into international prominence.
Branislav had seen it all.

And he knows that Philippine volleyball is not yet ready for to compete in a tournament as massive, as overwhelming as the world championship.

[quote]We’re not yet ready for this level.

We will be facing against the best club teams in the world and it’s impossible to prepare the team in three week’s time. It takes years and a lot of patience before we can match up with them.[/quote]

PSL-F2 Logistics Manila will be represented by skipper Rachel Anne Daquis, Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Frances Molina, Jen Reyes and Jaja Santiago together with foreign stars Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine, Ekaterina Krivets of Russia, Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand and Yuri Fukuda of Japan.

Yes, Morales is an Olympian while Nyukhalova and Krivets competed for different teams in this prestigious tournament last year. Niemer and Stalzer are also no strangers to big-time competition as well as Fukuda and Boonlert, who campaigned for the Thai juniors team in Asian circuits.

But looking at the local lineup, it’s really a work in progress. And Branislav knows that.

[quote]We’re just starting to learn.

If we can sustain this kind of program, international exposure, solid support, then we can develop a team that we can groom into an Asian powerhouse. But it will take a lot of time, of course.[/quote]

Fighting heart

One of the youngest players on the team, 20-year old Jaja Santiago echoed her coach’s claim, saying that they may not have the experience, but they have the big fighting heart, the willingness to fight to be able to stand their ground against the best players in the world.

After all, whatever experience they will gain will be very valuable in the upcoming international wars ahead in the regional and Asian levels.

[quote]There’s no doubt or hesitation that we can use this experience to compete in the AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) tournaments.[/quote]

Santiago said the team is developing, but there’s still a plenty of things to be done.

[quote]In a scale of 1 to 10, probably we’re at 7.5 since the past few weeks we are getting familiarized with each other even if our bonding is still very limited.

But at the end of the day, it won’t be the skills or technical know-how that will carry them through – it’s their fighting heart.

We will keep on fighting.

We will be playing before the home crowd and we know that they will be behind us every step of the way. This is a major tournament. And we want to use it as a springboard to success.[/quote]

True enough, PSL-F2 Logistics may not win it all. But they will make sure to make their country proud.

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