Downplaying its tag as tournament favorite, Cignal head coach Sammy Acaylar said his squad is still a work in progress when it competes in the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix starting this Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
A former national team mentor, Acaylar said they are still working on their chemistry following a massive revamp during the off-season of this prestigious inter-club tournament, which stakes a ticket to the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship next year in Chinese Taipei.
He said aside from imports Olympian Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico and Laura Schaudt of the United States, the entire starting unit of the HD Spikers was composed of new recruits who served as cornerstones of their respective teams.
Former Most Valuable Player Venus Bernal will be making a return after a long layoff while Paneng Mercado moved from F2 Logistics as well as former Adamson stars Lourdes Patilano and Mylene Paat, former San Beda spiker Janine Marciano, former Perpetual blocker Sandra Delos Santos and playmaker Shawna-Lei Santos, who was recruited all the way from St. John’s University in the Division I of US NCAA.
Veterans Michelle Laborte, Cherry Vivas, Len Cortel and Jheck Dionela will also return to complete what looks like a very solid and powerful roster capable of bringing home the title.
“They are saying that we’re the favorites because of our lineup,” said Acaylar.
“But if you look closely, almost all of our players are new. We are still adjusting on the court and developing chemistry on the court. We’re still a work in progress. It’s still a long way to go.”
Acaylar, however, pointed out that developing into a cohesive unit wouldn’t take long as they have a lot of leaders in the team.
“This team is very matured,” he said. “We have a lot of leaders ranging from Lynda, Jheck, Venus, Paneng and our team captain, Micmic (Laborte). All of them are very matured and disciplined both inside and outside the court. We expect them to lead us to the title.”
“I really like the composition of the team. At least now, I have a players who can make my job a lot easier.”
The HD Spikers will kick off their Grand Prix campaign against reigning champion Foton on October 11 (Tuesday).