PSL Grand Prix 2017: The clash of the coaches

Wednesday, 18 Oct 2017
Kevin Atienza - Writer - @engrkevatienza

More than just a blistering battle among volleyball greats in the national arena, the season-ending conference of the Philippine Superliga will also serve as a test of tactics and war of wits between the mentors of the club teams.

Seasoned coaches decorated with years of volleyball know-how will battle it out as they plan to deliver their respective teams to a podium finish.

Before the league kicks off on October 21, meet the mentors who will campaign for this year’s tourney.

George Pascua

Club Team: Cignal HD Spikers

Decorated with numerous titles in both the UAAP and PSL, Pascua is no stranger in mentoring champion teams in volleyball. He led the gold medal finishes of the Petron Blaze Spikers in the 2014 PSL Grand Prix and 2015 PSL All-Filipino Conference.

A former champion Tamaraw, Pascua possesses the much-needed volleyball wits that the HD Spikers can utilize against powerhouses Petron, Foton, and F2 Logistics.

With Pascua’s notable background in volleyball coupled with veteran wards Rachel Anne Daquis, Janine Marciano, Honey Royse Tubino, and Jovelyn Gonzaga, the HD Spikers will surely pose a threat to those gunning for that championship crown.

Kungfu Reyes

Photo courtesy of Philippine Superliga

Club Team: Cocolife Asset Managers

Emilio Reyes, Jr., or more popularly known as Kungfu Reyes, is one of the most decorated coaches in volleyball today.

Battle-tested with first-hand championship experience and three titles during his 5-year stint with the UST men’s volleyball team, Reyes could surely train the Asset Managers and groom them into fighting form as they campaign to clinch their first Grand Prix title.

Known to many as a disciplinarian, Reyes succeeded Francis Vicente in serving as the head coach of the UST girls’ volleyball team. Before calling the shots for the Asset Managers, Reyes served as head coach of the RC Cola Army, mentoring veterans the likes of Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, Tina Salak, and Rachel Anne Daquis.

Will Reyes and his kungfu volleyball tactics enough to steer them into their first finals appearance? Surely, the Asset Managers will put up a serious fight.

Surely, the Asset Managers will put up a serious fight.

Moro Branislav

Photo courtesy of Roman Prospero, Philippine Superliga

Club Team: Foton Tornadoes

Hailing from a country that houses topnotch and seasoned international volleyball players, Serbian coach Moro Branislav brings a whole new dimension to the coaching program of Philippines volleyball.

Branislav was tapped to mentor heavyweight league contenders, Foton Tornadoes, after Vilet Ponce de Leon stepped down as its head coach last year.

Having been granted a Level 3 FIVB coach status, Branislav brought his international style of mentorship and trained the Tornadoes to become the powerhouse team that it is today. Before setting foot in the local volleyball scene, Branislav coached numerous clubs across Europe and East Asia.

In 2016, Branislav was tasked to gear up the PSL Manila for the FIVB Women’s Club Volleyball Championship.

With a vast coaching experience under his belt, will coach Moro be able to form a team that is worthy of a finals contention?

Francis Vicente

Club Team: Generika-Ayala Lifesavers

After calling the shots for the women’s national team in the 2017 AVC Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship and the recently-concluded 29th SEA Games, Vicente will be back at the helm of the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers to give favored title contenders Foton, Petron, and F2 Logistics a serious run for their money.

Vicente also mentors the women’s volleyball team of the University of the East for 4 years now. Prior to his stint with the Lady Warriors, Vicente was the head coach of the NU Lady Bulldogs and brought them to Final Four contention in Season 75 of the UAAP.

The national team coach is one of the most seasoned mentors in volleyball, after molding some of the nation’s volleyball stars today in the likes of Kim Fajardo, the Santiago sisters, and Alyssa Valdez.

Parley Tupaz

Club Team: Iriga Oragons

After helping and mentoring the Ateneo Lady Eagles to their remarkable gold medal finish in seasons 76 and 77 of the UAAP, Parley Tupaz is considered to be one of the most skillful tacticians in local volleyball.

Being a SEA Games bronze medalist, Tupaz formed part of the 2015 SEA games coaching staff as well as the AVC Asian U23 Women’s Championship the same year.

With the Lady Oragons making its debut in the Grand Prix, Tupaz is set to give favored club teams a tough grind in its quest to claim the crown.

Shaq Delos Santos

Club Team: Petron Blaze Spikers

A former Tamaraw himself, Cesael “Shaq” Delos Santos knows how to make and mold a champion team.

After steering the FEU Lady Tamaraws to Final Four appearances since 2015, Delos Santos left the courts of the UAAP and focused in mentoring the Petron Blaze Spikers in the PSL.

When Pascua relinquished his coaching duties in Petron, Delos Santos took over the helm, however, fate did not grant them a title finish.

It was only when Petron recruited key players from other club teams that Shaq was able to mold them in becoming the eventual champions of the 2017 PSL All-Filipino Conference.

Will Delos Santos’ coaching style work with the Blaze Spikers and its imports again, branding them as the team to beat?

Jerry Yee

Club Team: Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors

After Sammy Acaylar announced his exit from the courts of the PSL, the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors were left with a void at its helm. The team needed a veteran mentor who could harness their skills and have them battle-ready as the conference unfolds.

With a league lineup of experienced coaches, who’s better to fill Acaylar’s place than seasoned coach Jerry Yee?

An FIVB Level 3 coach, Jerry Yee is one strict trainer and mentor that could further develop the Lady Realtors’ play.

Known as a disciplinarian and for his stern talks on-court, Jerry Yee is best known as the former head coach of the UP Lady Maroons in the UAAP. Commanding the Diliman-based squad for four seasons, Yee shaped the Lady Maroons into fighting form and even led them to a Final Four appearance back in Season 78.

With a roster of promising players, will Yee make a mark in his PSL Grand Prix debut?

Ramil de Jesus

Club Team: F2 Logistics Cargo Movers

Adorned with championship titles and with more than 2 decades of coaching experience, RDJ is surely one of the most celebrated mentors in local volleyball today.

He is best known for mentoring the DLSU Lady Spikers in the UAAP, who have made 17 finals appearances and 10 championship titles in almost 20 years of his tutelage.

Despite having a colorful career in the UAAP, de Jesus wasn’t able to easily translate his magic to the courts of the PSL. Since his debut, RDJ coached four club teams in AirAsia, Generika, Shopinas.com and Meralco, before taking up the black and yellow colors of F2 Logistics.

Bannered by a core of DLSU Lady Spikers, RDJ trained and prepared his ward and eventually claimed the first PSL crown for the Cargo Movers in the PSL All-Filipino Conference last year.

With considerable knowledge in volleyball and mentorship, will RDJ’s efforts bring his team back to the topmost podium? The Cargo Movers would surely play their hearts out and deliver.