The opening serve of the brand-new Philippine Superliga (PSL) season has yet to be fired, but action and drama are already intense as clubs stack their rosters with quality talents for the prestigious Grand Prix starting Feb. 17.
After a couple of weeks of wheeling and dealing, Cocolife appears to be the biggest winner as it lured Serbian coach Moro Branislav and super import Sara Klisura from Foton aside from Filipino-American setter Shawna-Lei Santos.
The Asset Managers also secured fresh commitment from veterans Mary Jean Balse, Joanne Bunag, Jane Gonzales and Nene Bautista while star libero Denden Lazaro and import Taylor Milton are also tipped to return.
The only setback for these hungry Asset Managers is the decision of skipper Michele Gumabao to join Binibining Pilipinas and play for Creamline in the rival Premier Volleyball League.
Team official Joshua Ylaya said they like the progress of the team and they are looking forward to an impressive performance in the Grand Prix.
“So far, so good.”
“Although we managed to get those in our wish list, we’re still working to come up with the best team possible. The Grand Prix will be tough so we might as well be prepared.”
Also doing a superb job in its buildup is Generika-Ayala.
The Lifesavers parted ways with national team head coach Francis Vicente, but it hardly mattered as they recruited Marivic Meneses, April Ross Hingpit and Bang Pineda from Petron virtually in exchange for Chloe Cortez.
Sources said a new head coach is tipped to join the Lifesavers as soon as his resignation with his current club has been finalized.
Work in progress
While Cocolife and Generika-Ayala are busy waging a recruiting coup, heavyweights like Foton, Petron, F2 Logistics are still a work in progress.
With Branislav and Klisura out, the Tornadoes have recruited Carmina Aganon from Petron, Genevieve Casugod from Generika-Ayala and head coach Rommel Abella and Gyzelle Sy from Pocari Sweat in the PVL.
They are still in the lookout for import, although team manager Diane Santiago confirmed that libero Katarina Vukamanovic will be back to join Jen Reyes in the patrolling the backline.
“We’re still looking for two imports.”
“We know that Jaja (Santiago) and EJ (Laure) will be out so we have to find imports who can lead our offense. We’re still a work in progress. We’ll see.”
Also busy combing the market for quality talents are the protagonists in last year’s finals encounter – Petron and F2 Logistics.
The Blaze Spikers lost their shock troopers in Aganon, Pineda, Meneses and Hingpit, but gained Cortez and former University of the Philippines libero Pia Gaiser in return.
The Cargo Movers, for their part, lost Majoy Baron, Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili and the nucleus of De La Salle University players. They are now in pursuit of a backup setter and libero who could help the returning Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano and imports Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez.
On the other hand, everything is quiet over at the camps of Cignal and Sta. Lucia.
Save for losing their respective head coaches – Pascua for Cignal and Jerry Yee for Sta. Lucia – nothing much was heard from the HD Spikers and the Lady Realtors.
Cignal team manager Edgar Barroga admitted that they are still in quest for a new head coach while still negotiating with potential recruits following the reported departure of Chie Saet and Paneng Mercado to the other league and knee injury of Janine Marciano and Jovelyn Gonzaga.
The Lady Realtors, for their part, tapped Pascua as their new head coach and inked new pacts with MJ Philips, Rebecca Rivera and Pam Lastimosa.
League insiders claimed that the HD Spikers and the Lady Realtors could still catch up as the player movement is tipped to continue until early February.