Chooks-to-Go returns to PSL

Friday, 26 Jan 2018
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

Chooks-to-Go makes its return to the Philippine Superliga (PSL) following the success of their partnership last year.

Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas said the smashing success of the PSL Grand Prix last year where they served as main sponsors allowed them to captivate the hearts of their target market, especially the young generation of volleyball fans.

True enough, the previous Grand Prix was simply incredible.

F2 Logistics started out slow as it missed the league’s first two weeks to give way for the University Games in Dumaguete City where players like Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili and Kianna Dy were seeing action for De La Salle University.

But in their first match, the Cargo Movers made a strong impression.

Stacked against a veteran-laden Petron squad, F2 Logistics imports Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela and Kennedy Bryan of the United States made their presence felt, hounding and pounding the Blaze Spikers en route to a four-set victory in Bacolod City.

They sustained their momentum and tallied six consecutive victories before succumbing to a red-hot Foton squad bannered by Serbian Sara Klisura, who erupted for a record-breaking 41 points.

The Cargo Movers prevailed over Iriga City in the last day of eliminations to enter the quarterfinals as the top seed.

They crushed the Lady Oragons anew in the quarterfinals before dominating Cocolife in the semifinals, setting the stage for a best-of-three titular showdown against Petron.

The Blaze Spikers were coming in as overwhelming favorites after slicing through the eliminations with a 6-1 mark. They crushed Generika-Ayala in the quarterfinals and dethroned Foton in the semifinals to move a couple of wins away from the PSL Grand Prix crown.

True enough, they were a team on a mission.

In Game 1, they crushed the Cargo Movers in straight sets, 25-14, 25-21, 25-16.
But F2 Logistics Ramil de Jesus came up with a brilliant idea.

He shifted Bryan back to her original position while deploying veteran Cha Cruz to the open spiker slot together with Perez.
Sideliners believed that it’s a major gamble as Cruz hardly saw significant minutes all season while Dy was doing well at the opposite spot.

De Jesus, however, knows that an adjustment had to be made.

The risk paid off as the Cargo Movers took Game 2 in five sets — a victory that nearly went the Blaze Spikers’ way if not for some careless miscues in the fourth set where Petron already enjoyed a 9-0 lead.

Game 3 was set at the cavernous Mall of Asia Arena and the Cargo Movers were simply too dominant, too motivated to be denied.

They won the crown with Cruz serving as the hero and Perez emerging with the Most Valuable Player award.

Back at the pressroom, away from the bright lights of the country’s most modern arena, de Jesus uttered a little secret — Perez’s older brother lost his battle to cancer.

In all these action, drama and intensity, Chooks-to-Go was there.

And it motivated Mascarinas to renew their partnership with the league.

“The 2017 Grand Prix was a resounding success as did not only connect our brand to new audience, but also captivated our audience.”

“The journey of F2 Logistics was very inspiring. From the heroics of Cha Cruz to the selflessness of MJ Perez, a new generation of volleyball players will look back from that moment and say that they were inspired to play volleyball because of it.”

‘Hard to top’

Mascarinas believes that the previous Grand Prix is just the tip of the iceberg.

He said the new edition of the import-flavored conference promises to either match or surpass the success of the previous staging.

In fact, a lot of teams have waged a serious buildup to knock the crown off the Cargo Movers’ heads.

Cocolife, for one, will be a force to be reckoned with following the transfer of Serbian coach Moro Branislav, import Sara Klisura and Honey Royse Tubino.

Cignal, Generika-Ayala, Foton and Sta. Lucia will also be a major force as they parade new coaches in Edgar Barroga, Sherwin Meneses, Rommel Abella and George Pascua, respectively.

Of course, Petron will always be there as the intact roster of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Rhea Dimaculangan and Mika Reyes remains one of the league’s best.

“It will be hard to top the 2017 Grand Prix.”

“But with the vision of (PSL president) Tats Suzara, we are hoping for another fruitful outing this time around.”

“To all our players and coaches, good luck! Always bring your puso to every game.”