Foton Pilipinas got the thumbs up from President Rodrigo Duterte during the team’s courtesy call in Malacanang prior to their campaign in the AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Asian Women’s Club Championship set on September 3 to 11 at the Alonte Sports Center in Biñan City, Laguna.
Led by Philippine Superliga American imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer as well as Italian coach Fabio Menta, the Tornadoes came in full force on Tuesday night to pay the President a visit briefing him of the tough battle ahead of them against the best club teams in Asia.
Duterte lightheartedly said that the members of the Tornadoes could join a beauty pageant because of their good looks and charm.
He also asked Menta about his coaching record. And when the 54-year old Italian answered that he’s been coaching for more than 20 years, Duterte said: “Oh good, I know we will win.”
It was the second time for President Duterte to shake hands with members of a national sporting delegation after meeting with the Philippine contingent to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month.
“Sports is my passion because it takes the youth away from (doing) drugs,” he told the Tornadoes during their brief meeting. “I will try to watch your games if I have time. All I can say now is good luck and mabuhay kayo!”
Besides Usher, Stalzer and Menta, also present during the meeting with the President were Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, Jen Reyes, Ivy Perez, Patty Orendain, Carol Cerveza, Angeli Araneta and team captain Jaja Santiago.
The Tornadoes will begin their campaign with a match against Pocari Sweat of Hong Kong on Saturday and against Thongtin Lienvietpost Bank of Vietnam on Sunday.
Other teams seeing action in the meet are NEC Red Rockets of Japan, Bangkok Glass of Thailand, Altay VC of Kazakhstan, Sarmayeh Bank of Iran, Jakarta Elektrik of Indonesia, Taichung Bank of Taiwan, Ba’yi Shenzheng of China, Malaysia and 4.25 Sports Club of North Korea.