The Philippine Superliga Grand Prix will unfold another chapter on October 21 2017 and expectations are sky high that the season ending conference will be packed with excitingment, unexpected drama and record-setting victories.
Two neophyte teams are set to join the Grand Prix in UST Golden Tigresses and a provincial team from Iriga, which sets the record for most number of participants since the tournament started in 2013 at eight teams.
Foreign imports, who are brimming with international experience, will once again electrify the atmosphere and are expected to wow the Filipino audience. But before they take center stage, let us look at eight out-of-this-world predictions for this year’s Grand Prix. They may sound absurd but remember, anything can happen in volleyball!
PSL Grand Prix Predictions
1. Petron goes 14-0 in the elims
In terms of paper, the Lady Blaze Spikers are the strongest roster.
Petron parades four members of the national team in Aiza Maizo Pontillas, Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, and Ces Molina, backed up by the powerful duo of beach volleyball queens Bernadette Pons and Sisi Rondina.
As for their imports, they have acquired the service of their former tormentor Lindzay Stalzer, who is dubbed as the best import to play in the league and another American power hitter in Hillary Hurley.
With that core, they look invincible.
Interestingly, Petron holds the only immaculate record in the league, when they swept the All Filipino Conference in the 2016 edition. Who else can duplicate this rare milestone than the Lady Blaze Spikers themselves?
2. But a team will upset them in the playoffs.
Petron sweeping the elimination is not an impossible mission but neither is a team playing spoiler in the playoffs.
F2 Logistics Cargo Movers are no stranger to this role. The Ramil De Jesus-led squad is known for their comeback ability. This is a team who does not usually top the preliminaries but comes out stronger, sharper, and hungrier come the playoffs. With their star-studded line up, consisting mostly of tournament MVP’s, dealing Petron their third straight heartbreak is very attainable.
Cignal HD Spikers are also serious in giving their franchise its first-ever championship. After falling short in achieving its goal in the previous conference, Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino are ready to knock off the crown from PSL giants, Petron and the defending champions, Foton.
3. An import will score 50+ points.
Imports are not recruited for nothing. They serve as reinforcements to carry the scoring load for their squads. This year, with a batch of talented and powerful foreign guest players, chalking up 50+ points in a single game is arguably within reach.
So far, Kristy Jaeckel of the Mane N’ Tail holds the most points in a single game, loading up 40 markers in their five-set victory against Foton in 2014.
I have a feeling that this league record will be erased this year.
4. Dindin will win an individual award
One of the most hotly-anticipated events in this year’s Grand Prix is the return of former Most Valuable Player and national team member, Dindin Santiago-Manabat. After recovering from a grueling knee injury, which sidelined her from her national team duties, Manabat is back to help the Tornadoes in their championship campaign.
Manabat is, undoubtedly, one of the best all-around players in the country who can play multiple positions on the court. Dindin will cement her return this year with an individual award in either one of the Best Open Spikers, Best Middle Blockers or a Finals MVP award should Foton complete a back-to-back championship.
5. Morente will start for F2
Michelle Morente, a former Lady Eagle, will now play for the La Salle-laden squad F2 Logistics Cargo Movers. She hit the headlines months ago when coach RDJ confirmed that she has already transferred to De La Salle University after a four-year stint with its arch-rival Ateneo De Manila University.
With the Grand Prix serving as her first duty with the La Sallian, the powerful opposite spiker might be given the starting spot by Coach Ramil as she does not only contribute to F2’s offense but also provide steady presence both in reception and floor defense.
6. Playoffs will be played in a bigger venue
The PSL Grand Prix will be another fruitful conference for the prestigious semi-pro club scene. As the number of Filipino fans grow larger, the league might need to move in a bigger venue like the Smart Araneta Coliseum come the playoffs to accommodate the huge crowds, especially for the final series.
7. Final Four Rankings
There may not be many that agree with me but I’m going for: