Generika starts journey to title

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

While other teams are taking their sweet time following a gruelling Philippine Superliga (PSL) season, Generika is quietly making a buildup in a bid to form a highly competitive team for next year.

Lifesavers coach Francis Vicente announced that they would be having a two-day tryout next week, a move that shows how serious they are in joining the titular showdown greatly dominated by heavyweights Petron, F2 Logistics and Foton, which took home the PSL Grand Prix crown in dominant fashion over the weekend.

The tryout is set on Dec. 17 and 18 at Gold’s gym in Mandaluyong.

Vicente refused to speculate whether they would be having a revamp, but pointed out that he wants to create a healthy competition among the Lifesavers, who have yet to advance to the semifinals after winning the title in 2014 with Tina Salak and other members of the Philippine Army as their nucleus.

This is to show how serious we are to become a legitimate title contender again.

This tryout is our attempt to discover fresh talents outside the comforts of the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).

I believe there are still a lot of young players in other leagues like SCUAA (Schools, Colleges and Universities Athletic Association) and NCRAA (National Capital Region Athletic Association) who are waiting to be discovered.

Vicente set a very strict set of criteria for potential members of the club.

My main concern is height.

Then, she should have relevant experience, strong personality, leadership and looks and educational background, which would help us in our marketing activities and possible employment with the Ayala Group.

Of course, she should have a high level of volleyball skills because the PSL is not a joke. It’s a serious competition where the best players in the country are playing.

Our purpose is to increase our level of competition where the current members have to fight for their slots against the new faces. I will make sure that only the best of the best would make it.

Vicente is looking to open his training camp on January 7.

Eye for talent

Combing diamonds in the rough is nothing new for Vicente.

Less than 10 years ago, he packed his bags for a recruiting trip to Batangas to check out a young spiker, who is slowly becoming the toast of the town. Vicente successfully recruited the spiker, but she wants to tag along her friend, fearing that University of Santo Tomas might be too big for a provinciana lass like her to handle.

Vicente agreed.

In three years’ time, the spiker and her friend evolved into UAAP’s most fearsome duo, leading UST to three UAAP girls volleyball titles.

The young spiker became Kim Fajardo and her friend turned into Alyssa Valdez, arguably two of the best players in the country today.

In another recruiting trip somewhere in Tarlac few years later, Vicente was talking to a priest, trying to inquire the availability of a hard-hitting spiker, whom he has been seriously scouting for three consecutive days.

The layman said another UAAP coach from a major volleyball program already expressed his intention to recruit the player and they were quite interested.

The dejected Vicente flashed a sorry smile, shook the priest’s hand then walk away. He also handed the priest a small amount – something like P500 or P1,000 — so he can buy water for his team.

Few days later, Vicente’s phone rang.

It was the priest on the other line.

He said he and his player are finally ready to sit down with Vicente to discuss the possibility of playing for him at National University.

The player turned out to be Myla Pablo, a strong open spiker who made history after emerging as the first local player to sign a five-year contract worth more than P4 million on top of a brand-new car.

Nobody’s safe

Vicente admitted that their season, especially in the Grand Prix, didn’t go on as planned.

Sure, he has a solid core of Rubie de Leon, Marivic Meneses, Shaya Adorador, Wensh Tiu and Chloe Cortez. But these stars succumb into pressure as the more experienced teams like Foton and Petron wallop them down the stretch.

In the previous conference, Generika lost six consecutive matches before finally plucking a win over a depleted Cignal squad. The Lifesavers pulled a repeat over the HD Spikers in the battle for 5th to 6th places to salvage some measure of pride.

Personally, I’m not satisfied. I know I have a very strong team that is capable of making it to the semifinals.

They were off and on in the Grand Prix. We had some issues in terms of leadership. It seems that nobody wanted to step up and take charge when the going gets tough.

That’s the main purpose of this tryout. We want the old players to avoid complacency. We want them to be on their toes, knowing that there’s another player willing to take their spot on the team. We want to create a very competitive atmosphere within the team.

He said that if ever fresh talents would crop up, he would conduct an evaluation before deciding on who would be cut.

Nobody’s job is safe. We will continuously conduct an evaluation and deliberation until we formally assemble the lineup.

Vicente is serious.

Generika is bravely taking the first step to becoming a title contender knowing that fortune always favors the bold.