No Army for 2017

Thursday, 15 Dec 2016
Nads Ong - Correspondent - @nadineisreal

Members of the Philippine Army are tipped to miss the 2017 season of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) as they are set to undergo a mandatory eight-month Candidate Soldier Course at the Training and Doctrine Center in Capas, Tarlac.

RC Cola-Army head coach Kungfu Reyes confirmed this development, saying that at least 10 of his players would be undergoing the training program, including stars Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, Nerissa Bautista and Tin Agno.

Reyes, the former University of Santo Tomas star who guided the Lady Troopers to a semifinal finish in the previous Grand Prix, said the training course is an overdue program that will give them a chance to rest their weary body as well as fulfill their obligations as enlisted members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Aside from the 10 soldier-athletes, Tina Salak and Michelle Carolino also opted to finally hang their playing uniforms.

The 40-year old Salak kissed her colorful career goodbye following two decades of local and international campaign while Carolino followed suit due to her recurring back problem.

Reyes said they will sit down with their sponsor – RC Cola – in their Christmas party over the weekend to discuss the possible plans of the franchise, which they steered to a title finish in the season-opening Invitational Conference last April.

‘We shall return’

The Lady Troopers are founding members of the PSL.

They won the league’s first three titles before sitting out the next three to campaign in the rival league. But they made a return and won the crown in the Invitational Conference while Gonzaga and Bautista took home the PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup title.

This time, the Lady Troopers would be out again. But Reyes assured that they will come back stronger, even better than before.

We’ll be out for at least a year because we have to undergo the mandatory military training. But we’ll surely come back. We have yet to finalize the decision, but we’re 80 percent sure that we’re skipping the year.

Major blow

Next year would be another banner year for the PSL and Philippine volleyball in general.

Aside from the regular conferences – the Invitational, All-Filipino and Grand Prix – the PSL would be sending players to the Thai-Denmark League in Thailand in March as well as the Asian Women’s Seniors Club Championship in Kazakhstan in August.

An Asian Superliga featuring Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand is also scheduled as well as the West Coast Road Tour in the United States. Sources added that the league is also mulling the possibility of bringing the Spike on Tour to Guam.

But the most important event would be the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia in August. And the Philippines could miss the services of Gonzaga, a many-time national team member.

Reyes, however, said it could be one step backward and two steps forward for them.

For sure, everything will be gone, especially their volleyball muscles. We have to start from zero once they come back. We’ll use the time away from volleyball to look for new recruits and start from the basics so we can bring back the winning tradition of the team.

Reyes said they don’t have any regrets. After all, they are soldiers first, athletes second.