PSL stars brace for war

Friday, 01 Sep 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

The euphoria of the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games has yet to subside, but local players are already set to embark on a new international journey.

The Philippine Superliga (PSL) confirmed that it is sending some of its brightest stars to the 2017 Annual Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Cup Volleyball Tournament in Sisaket, Thailand starting Sept. 2.

Tasked to banner the squad is national team skipper Mika Reyes as well as teammates Aby Marano, Frances Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rhea Dimaculangan, giving them another good foreign exposure as they brace for new challenges ahead.

Also included are seasoned international campaigners Jheck Dionela, Chie Saet and Honey Royse Tubino with Bang Pineda serving as defense specialist and Remy Palma making her international debut.

Mar-Jana Philips, the powerful Filipino-American spiker, was also included, giving Thai fans a glimpse of how she performs in an international arena.

Sources claim that national team head coach Francis Vicente is interested in inviting Philips to the national pool so this tourney will serve as her litmus test whether she would sink or swim against more seasoned competitors.

Insiders added that collegiate stars Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili and Jaja Santiago were also invited.

Unfortunately, they begged off as they have to go back to school to attend some pressing matters after being with the national team for the past two months.

“We have to understand that they already missed a lot of exams and school work.”

“But what we have now is one of the strongest PSL teams ever assembled. We have a mixture of youth and veteran experience that will surely give Thai clubs a run for their money.”

“And the fact that half of the members of the national team is there means that the PSL is looking to give them a good foreign exposure. Remember that our goal is to give these players as much foreign exposure they can get. For the PSL, this is already a good start.”

Shaq Delos Santos of PSL All-Filipino Cup champion Petron will serve as head coach.

Tough competition

The tournament is not a cakewalk.

Last year, Foton represented the Philippines in preparation for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship that was held in Binan City.

Bannered by Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher, the Tornadoes finished sixth with home team PEA-Sisaket, powered by Thailand national team stars Nootsara Tomkom and Pleumjit Thinkaow, bagging the crown.

This time, the Filipino side is in for another tough time.

The PSL stars are bunched in Pool B with powerhouse Bangkok Glass and college squad Rangsit University.

Pool A, on the other hand, has PEA-Sisaket, Khonkaen Star VC and So UK Volleyball Team.

The Filipinos will open their bid against Bangkok Glass on Sept. 4 before facing Rangsit University on Sept 6.

The top two qualifiers will tangle in crossover semifinals on Sept. 7 with the survivors clashing in the finals on Sept. 8.