DRAMA and tension are expected to fly as the best volleyball players in the country fight for their slots in the 18-man national team in the Clash of Heroes today (Monday) at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Most Valuable Player Johnvic de Guzman and his Pilipinas-Blue team tip things off as they battle Pilipinas-Red squad bannered by UAAP MVP Marck Espejo in the men’s match at 4:15 pm.
Although Espejo remains doubtful, his squad remains solid, giving it a razor-thin advantage in this encounter that serves as the final leg of the tryouts for the national team headed for the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur this August.
Another doubtful participant is former Ateneo star Alyssa Valdez of Pilipinas-Blue team as it faces Pilipinas-Red squad led by Aiza Maizo-Pontillas of Petron in the 7 pm featured battle.
But prior to the women’s match, the stars of today will pay tribute to those who have brought honor to the country in the international arena like three-time SEA Games gold medalist Arlene Apostol-Ladimo, Grace Antigua, Zenaida Chavez, Rosemarie Prochina and Joanne Tavera-Tomacruz.
NCAA cheerdance champion Arellano University is tasked to bang the drums and make some noise.
Valdez, arguably the most popular player in the country, was barred from competing by her mother club, Creamline, to avoid any injury as it braces for the crucial stretch of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).
Also expected to sit out are PVL stalwarts like Myla Pablo and Elaine Kasilag of Pocari Sweat and Gretchel Soltones of BaliPure.
With that, their slots in the national team are in peril as the LVPI made it clear the event serves as the basis for selecting the composition of the national team.
“The first thing we want to see in these aspirants is their commitment,” said national women’s team head coach Francis Vicente. “This event is the ultimate test not only to their skills and talent, but also to their character and commitment to serve the national team.”
Tasked to help Valdez — if ever she makes a surprise appearance – in carrying the load for Pilipinas-Blue squad are fellow rising stars like Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes, Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili, Ria Meneses, and Frances Molina.
They will be up against the seasoned Pilipinas-Red squad bannered by Maizo-Pontillas with Aby Marano, Denden Lazaro, Jaja Santiago, Gen Casugod, and Rhea Dimaculangan as support crew.