Former top player Tina Salak is set to open another chapter in her volleyball career as she serves as assistant coach of new team Cocolife in the 2017 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference starting this Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
After leading the Philippine Army to glorious finishes and representing the country in various international tournaments, the 40-year old playmaker will now assist head coach Obet Javier in the season-opening conference.
Salak’s commanding presence in the bench is a major boost to the neophyte squad composed of former stars from fierce rivals Ateneo and La Salle, as well as the nucleus of newly crowned NCAA champion Arellano University.
Michele Gumabao will be at the helm while Denise Lazaro, Wensh Tiu, Erika Alkuino, Rosemarie Vargas, Therese Gaston, Eunice Galang, Anne Esguerra, Rhea Ramirez, Jovie Prado, Regine Arocha and Andrea Marzan make up Cocolife’s core.
Former UAAP Most Valuable Player Iris Ortega-Patrona, meanwhile, will be making a grand comeback together with Kay Martinez-Daly, who will come in after Mika Esperanza begged off to focus on her studies in a medical school.
Gumabao, the heart and soul of La Salle’s championship runs, said Salak is helping them develop their chemistry inside and outside the court.
She also instills the discipline and work ethic she acquired from Army and the national team, which she led to the silver medal in the 1995 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta and bronze medal in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila.
“Coach Tina’s presence is a necessity in bonding the whole team. Coach Tina is both strict and understanding,” said Gumabao, referring to Salak who also served as trainer of PSL Manila in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship last year.
“The past week, she really taught us a lot as a team and I know in such a short amount of time, we can still be competitive. Coach Tina doesn’t look at anyone in our team any differently. We all go through the same rules and training that makes us one as a team.”
Team official Joshua Ylaya added that Salak’s stint with the Asset Managers wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of the Lady Troopers.
“We want to extend our thanks to the Philippine Army for allowing us to borrow coach Tina,” he said. “At least our team can experience the kind of discipline, the kind of fighting spirit she instills to strive for excellence. Coach Tina and a champion coach in Coach Obet would surely make us very competitive.”
Aside from Cocolife, also campaigning in the season-opening conference are Cignal, Generika, Petron, Foton and another new team in Sta. Lucia Land.