The PSL Grand Prix is about to start this coming October 21, all the teams are loaded and ready to have a run at the title, but the biggest headline will be the defending champion’s chase for their 3rd title. What do the Foton Tornadoes have in store for us this season?
First up, the Foton towers are back! The Santiago sisters are back for the blue and white army to power them for another title run.
The reigning Grand Prix Most Valuable Player (MVP), Jaja Santiago will once again spearhead the Tornadoes this year. Santiago had a busy year after she played for the Philippine National Team and rallied with the Bulldogs in the PVL. She had a great outing in the PSL All-Filipino conference winning the best Opposite Spiker award.
Another great talent to see action this Grand Prix is Jaja’s older sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat. She was part of the team that took the title last year. She also played in PSL’s Invitational cup and carried Foton Tornadoes in a great standing before suffering a knee injury. The 6 foot 2 middle blocker was big for Foton on her last outing, after Coach Moro Branislav made her play the outside position and she’s now a threat in the back row.
Aside from the Santiago sisters, Foton Tornadoes is packed up with great Filipino talents. They have EJ Laure at the open position, Maika Ortiz in the middle and an outstanding Libero in Jen Reyes. They also have talented setters in the roster, a young, tall and scrappy setter in Ivy Perez and a veteran presence in Rubie De Leon.
The back-to-back champions tapped 3 new European imports for the Grand Prix.
Montenegro player, Dragana Perunicic will power Fotons offense from the open position this conference, together with Serbian player Sara Klisura, while Katarina Vukomanovic, a Serbian libero will help Jen Reyes man the floor to provide a better defense.
Klisura and Vukomanivic were part of Serbian junior national team that Moro Branislav coached previously. Both players are Branislav’s personal pick as a result of their existing familiarity and chemistry.
Not all positive
Along with the addition of these imports are farewell of some key players from last year’s campaign.
Lindsay Stalzer who powered Foton to back-to-back championships will now wear a rival’s uniform as she will suit up for Petron Blaze spikers this year. Ariel Usher who reinforced the tornados offense last Grand Prix is also a huge loss for Foton and leaves big shoes to fill for the new imports.
The reigning champions have also lost local talents from last year. Sisi Rondina and their ace setter Rhea Dimaculangan are no longer available having played for Petron in the last two PSL conferences.
All these losses can be considered huge setbacks for Foton’s chase for their third title and only time will tell whether the new imports can deliver to a similar level achieved by Stalzer, Usher and co.
Overall, Foton is still a top contender. They have great holdovers players and made some remarkable additions. If their new imports are as good as advertised, they have a clear chance to take the title once again. This team’s fire power is on par with any other teams in the PSL and with another libero in town, they will have an intimidating defensive presence.
This year’s Grand Prix is filled with amazing batch of imports and contenders trying to steal the crown. We better get ready for outstanding matches and a breathtaking season.