Arellano barges into radar

Wednesday, 15 Feb 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

With Arellano University formally clinching the NCAA Season 92 women’s volleyball tournament crown over a powerful San Sebastian College squad, some quarters are now inquiring about the availability of the Lady Chiefs to compete in the Philippine Superliga (PSL).

A prominent source said a sponsor is willing to field the entire team in the PSL Invitational Conference, which starts on March 4 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The offer is not yet cast in stone, but the source said the sponsor is looking to secure a meeting with Peter Cayco, whose family owns the school and serves as acting president of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI).

Another source said Foton head coach Moro Branislav had reached out to Cayco, inquiring the availability of four players from the victorious Arellano squad.

The source, however, didn’t reveal the identity of the players as they were still in the thick of the finals when the noted Serbian mentor was scouting the Lady Chiefs.

Leadership

Head coach Obet Javier also made heads turn.

The source said some PSL teams also expressed interest in Javier, whose last coaching stint in the commercial league was as an assistant to Nestor Pamilar at Laoag in the V-League.

“Everybody loves a winner. Only three from that Arellano team played in the V-League while nobody played in the PSL last year. Now, everybody is looking to acquire them.”

Cayco confirmed the sources’ claim, but said that if he will have it his way, he wants the entire team to compete as a solid unit, similar to what La Salle did when it donned the colors of Meralco in the PSL Grand Prix that paved the way to win the UAAP Season 78 title.

“While the possibility of sending players to club leagues sounds exciting, as much as possible, it would be ideal if they will play as one team. In that way, we’ll further develop chemistry that we could use in defending our title next year.”

Not expected

Nobody expected the Lady Chiefs to win the crown – not even Cayco.

Cayco said he tempered his expectation due to the team’s sluggish start. But when the Lady Chiefs caught fire in the crucial stretch of the tournament, he realized that winning their second crown in five years is quite achievable.

In the finals, Cayco’s faith on the squad was further reinforced as the Lady Chiefs allowed tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) Gretchel Soltones to do the damage, but kept everybody in check to overcome the Lady Stags’ seemingly insurmountable thrice-to-beat advantage.

“The girls never gave up. They refused to get intimidated.”

Cayco said the script of last year appears to have been rewritten but with different set of characters.

“Last year, we were defeated by (College of) Saint Benilde in the semis. Now, it’s our turn to defeat them.”

“Then also last year, Saint Benilde defeated San Sebastian, which has a thrice-to-beat advantage. Now the tables have turned. It was our turn to defeat them.”

“The girls played not for their name at the back of their jersies, but for the team they represent. We may have no star players, but we still got the job done. It’s a total team effort.”

He added that he’s no longer surprised to hear that some quarters are eyeing the Lady Chiefs to be part of their team in the PSL. But before entertaining any offer, Cayco wants them to savor the sweetness of their victory.

“Gusto daw mag-Boracay eh. So mag-enjoy na muna sila.”