The Shakey’s V-League kicks off its Season 13 Reinforced Conference today (Saturday) with a slew of imports taking center stage against a host of local aces in what promises to be a slambang showdown for the crown at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Hostilities begin with a double header pitting Coast Guard against Laoag at 4 p.m. and Air Force versus UST at 6 p.m.
“The players of Team Laoag are seasoned players so jelling won’t be much of a problem,” said Laoag’s Nes Pamilar.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this tournament as we’re preparing for the UAAP, which we’re hosting,” said Tigresses assistant Ian Fernandez.
Although some of the teams will parade an all-Pinoy crew, coaches still expect a competitive showdown in the season-ending conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
“I think everybody’s strong this conference. In our team, we don’t take anyone lightly and we always give it 100 percent. Everybody’s the team to beat for us,” said Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella, whose wards seek to follow up their Open Conference romp with another championship.
“All the teams this conference are competitive, you can’t underestimate any of them,” said Jasper Jimenez of Philippine Air Force, which finished second to Pocari Sweat in the recent Open Conference and one of the teams competing without an import.
“We have to exert effort double because we don’t have an import,’ added Jimenez during Friday’s launch of the import-flavored tourney graced by organizing Sports Vision’s Ricky Palou and Tony Boy Liao, ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena and Shakey’s marketing manager Ghena Austero.
The Air Force-UST match will be aired live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 while the first match will be shown on a delayed basis with both matches can also be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph.
Also on tap is the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference with six teams, headed by defending champion Air Force, clashing for the crown. Others in the fold are Cignal, Sta. Elena Construction, Instituto Estetico Manila, Army and newcomer 100 Plus.
Air Force and 100 Plus clash in the lone opening day match at 12:30 p.m.
The Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors will again anchor their bid on Michele Gumabao and Myla Pablo and foreign players Andrea Kacsits and Breanna Mackie against the PAF, Alyssa Valdez-led Bureau of Customs, Philippine Coast Guard, Laoag, UP Lady Maroons, UST Tigresses and Bali Pure.
Valdez, formerly of 2015 titlist PLDT, joins forces this time with Thai reinforcements Kanjana Kuthasong and Natanicha Jaisen for her new team BOC Transformers. It’s Valdez’s first time to play opposite her Ateneo teammates, who don the Bali Pure colors.
“It’s kinda new for me to be apart with my college teammates. It’s gonna be exciting for sure; we’ll learn a lot from this experience as competitors. Looking forward to a healthy competition,” said Valdez.
The Tai Bundit-coached Water Defenders have tapped Americans Kaylee Manns and Katharine Morrell to beef up their Atenean spikers and Suzanne Roces, a former MVP in the league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
2016 SVP Open Conference MVP Grethcel Soltones banners Laoag Power Smashers; Joy Cases leads PAF; Kamille Ogane takes the lead for Coast Guard; and college stars Isa Molde and Cherry Rondina spearhead UP and UST, respectively.