Are current imports here to stay?

Thursday, 30 Nov 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

With the Philippine Superliga (PSL) reversing its competition calendar, speculations are pregnant that some of the league’s outstanding imports will stay for the Grand Prix that starts February of next year.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a couple of team owners expressed willingness to extend the playing contracts of their current reinforcements.

One of them said they are very satisfied with the performance – and attitude – of their guest players, prompting them to sit down and tackle the possible contract extension.

Re-hiring a current import has its advantages.

Aside from scoring significant savings in time, effort and resources, bringing in a tried and tested guest player will give the club instant chemistry and familiarity by the time the Grand Prix rolls off.

“Chemistry is the most important factor in volleyball.”

“At least if our current imports will stay here (in Manila) and train with us for the next couple of months after this year’s Grand Prix, their chemistry and jelling among local players will be further developed.”

“It will also be easy for our coaches to identify the areas of improvement since they already saw these imports in action. It will make the league more interesting and very competitive.”

Another source admitted that they are late-bloomers in the ongoing Grand Prix.

Their imports, in fact, are just starting to jell with their local players, leading to a great performance in their past few games.

“It took us a couple of months before our imports start jelling with our local players.”

“Now, if they will extend their contract and be with us during the Christmas season and January, our team will definitely be in great shape by the time Grand Prix starts in mid-February. Retaining the imports is really a great advantage, something that we might exercise.”

A league insider said two prolific imports have already agreed to see action in club leagues in Asia and Europe next year.

But with an option to stay in the country for next year’s Grand Prix suddenly becoming available, the guest players were suddenly at a crossroad, wanting to stay here to join their teammates for another quest for glory.

“Bigla silang nalito.”

“They like (to stay) here, obviously. Let’s see how things will pan out.”

Clubs have few more days left to inform the league about their decision whether to extend the contract of their current imports or not.

Truckload of opportunities

With the PSL reversing its calendar, the Philippines suddenly became an ultimate volleyball destination for the world’s best players.

A league executive stressed that the international transfer season is from Oct. 15 to May 15 of next year.

Since the league’s import-flavored Grand Prix always opens around October, the prized recruits are already committed to various teams in Europe and Americas before local clubs could even formally extend their offer sheet.

Club leagues in Europe and Americas often start at the first quarter of the year.

In Southeast Asia, Volleyball Thailand League usually starts October, but it lasts until March, assuring foreign players of a longer contract in a tropical country.

It’s quite similar to the Indonesian Proliga, which starts early but has a Phase 1 and Phase 2 to maximize the transfer season.

“It’s no secret that foreign players, especially the Europeans, love to play in a tropical country like the Philippines.”

“Unfortunately, in our old calendar, we have no opportunity to lure the world’s best players because by the time we hire them around September or October, they are already committed to European and American leagues that started as early as February.”

“That’s why the PSL decided to reverse its calendar. If we start our Grand Prix in February, we’ll have a fighting chance to outbid those leagues using our competitive salary, friendly people with good communication skills and, of course, tropical weather as carrot.”

Aside from imports, local players can also have a golden opportunity to play abroad.

“Since our Grand Prix starts early, local players now have a chance to play in other countries without hurting their commitment with their respective local clubs or the national team.”

“Let’s say a European team wants a PSL player. She can easily go there because only her stint in the Grand Prix will be affected. She will still be here for the national team season from May to October and the All-Filipino Conference from July to November.”

The source said the reversal of calendar opens a lot of doors not only for the league, but to Philippine volleyball as well.

“It gives Philippine volleyball a truckload of opportunities.”

“Suddenly, we’re at par with the club leagues in other parts of the world. We can now hire top prospects and expose our local players to big-time international club leagues.”

“This is a win-win solution for everyone.”