Foton rolls with Euro stars

Monday, 04 Sep 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad
Photo courtesy of Foton Facebook page

While spotlight is set on Generika-Ayala and its pair of American imports, Foton is also leaving no stone unturned in coming up with a powerful roster for the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix.

Foton Tornadoes’ team manager Diane Santiago announced that their imports Sara Klisura of Serbia and Dragana Perunicic of Montenegro were already in town as early as Aug. 14, officially making them the first foreign players to check in for the Grand Prix that kicks off on Oct. 21.

A 6-foot-3 open spiker from Subotica, the 25-year old Klisura is coming in with tons of expectations after being part of the Serbian national team in 2010 together with other prolific players like Mile Rasic and Maja Ognjenovic.

But more than that, she’s a familiar face for Foton head coach Moro Branislav after being his player in a Romanian club, giving the noted Serbian guru an inside information on how to utilize her.

Santiago added that Branislav is also familiar with her partner, Perunicic, whom he personally scouted and recruited to make sure that the Tornadoes would conquer their third straight Grand Prix crown.

“Our imports were the personal choices of coach Moro.”

“Coach Moro knows Sara because she’s his player in a Romanian club. Same goes for Dragana, whom he personally scouted and recruited to be part of our team. I think his familiarity with our imports will play a role in our campaign in the Grand Prix.”

Santiago, the amiable sister of Foton stars Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat, added that the deciding factor for Branislav to go with Europeans instead of Americans like Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher is their defense.

“Coach (Moro) wants to put more premium on our defense.”

“He knows both of these players quite well, so he knows that both of them can defend.”

Shoot for three

Foton always marches as a heavyweight during the Grand Prix.

Two years ago, American stars Lindsay Stalzer and Kattie Messing bannered the Tornadoes to a masterful conquest of Petron, led by Brazilians Erica Adachi and Rupia Inck to win the Grand Prix title.

Then last year, Stalzer got another call-up and partnered with another power-hitter in Ariel Usher to lead the Tornadoes to another sweep of the Blaze Spikers, who paraded the prolific Stephanie Niemer and Serene Warner.

This year, Santiago is keeping her fingers crossed.

She knows that the Blaze Spikers had improved tremendously while Cignal, F2 Logistics and Generika-Ayala are dead serious in knocking the Grand Prix crown off their heads.

But she’s not worried.

“Yes, there’s pressure, but coach Moro can handle it.”

“We already have two imports who are familiar to his coaching style so I think we’ll be fine. We just have to work hard and hope for the best.”