Generika-Ayala starts its title quest when it clashes with Petron in the opening salvo of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Compared to previous conferences, hopes are high on these hungry Lifesavers.
They also tapped their former reinforcement, Darlene Ramdin, who looked fit and deadly after winning the 2nd Best Outside Spiker award en route to leading Trinidad and Tobago to a slot in the FIVB World Championship in Japan next year.
Aside from the reinforcements, the core of team captain Angeli Araneta, Gen Casugod, Shaya Adorador, Fiola Ceballos and Bia General will be back to power the Lifesavers in the most competitive, most prestigious women’s volleyball tourney in the country.
Head coach Francis Vicente likes the composition of the team, especially the hiring of Snuka, who is coming in as the only playmaker in this import-flavored conference.
“Finally, we have a very complete unit.”
“I can say that we have a good chance of making it to the semifinals this time. We have a solid outside hitter and a good setter, who are very familiar to each other as they both played college volleyball at the same school.”
“Aside from them, we also have a returning import in Darlene. She arrived last night and she looks very fit after winning the (2nd) Best Outside Spiker award in an international tournament. I’m satisfied with my team and I know that we will fight until the end.”
But the Lifesavers’ road to the semifinals is littered with challenges.
Given that Petron, Foton and Cignal will take the elimination round by storm due to their superior rosters, Generika-Ayala has to contend with F2 Logistics, Cocolife, Sta. Lucia and, maybe, rookie team Iriga City for the last semifinal spot.
F2 Logistics will parade only two imports in Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez, but they have a solid core led by Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and Asia’s 2nd Best Libero Dawn Macandili.
Cocolife will also have two imports in Taylor Milton and Tai Manu-Olevao, but Tina Salak and the seasoned group of former Philippine Army stars are tipped to jive well with Denden Lazaro and Michele Gumabao.
Of course, Sta. Lucia will still be there as it parades a new coach in Jerry Yee with three imports in Marisa Field and Kristen Moncks of Canada and Bohdana Anisova of Ukraine while Iriga City will parade the league’s tallest import in Tamara Kmezic of Serbia and Minami Yoshioka of Japan aside from Gretchel Soltones.
But Vicente is unfazed.
“Although all teams are stacked up, but my faith in my team is greater than everybody. I know we can do it. We will work hard to accomplish our goal.”
Under the league rules, only two of the three imports can play at the same time.
Since Generika-Ayala’s third import in Snuka is a setter who is expected to take the lion’s share of the minutes, Vicente is facing the tough task of playing his two other imports in Ramdin and Pilepic sparingly.
When asked how he will maximize the power of his reinforcement, Vicente paused before saying: Secret.
For sure, he knows something we don’t.