VOLLEYBALL

Local bets to test mettle vs Japanese team

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Local teams will be marching clueless when they battle Kobe Shinwa Women’s University in the final round of the Belo Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference starting Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

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Seasoned coaches Shaq Delos Santos of Petron and George Pascua of Cignal admitted they have not scouted the fancied Japanese squad, which will serve as the fourth team in the race to the crown of this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh and Mueller with TV5 as official broadcast partner.

Delos Santos said they tried their best to search Shinwa’s past games online for any available video but their attempts yielded negative results.

On the same note, Pascua said Kobe Shinwa remains shrouded with mystery as he has yet to get any information on how it plays.

“All I know is that it plays Japanese brand of volleyball to perfection,” said Pascua, who called the shots for Petron when it tangled with Japanese powerhouse Hisamitsu Springs in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Phu Ly, Vietnam in 2015.

“Other than that, we have no idea on how it plays. We tried looking for any available videos online, but we can’t get anything. I guess we’ll just work on the scouting when they arrive here on Tuesday.”

Even a veteran international campaigner in Moro Branislav of Foton admitted that facing Kobe Shinwa would be a major challenge, especially after they lost star spiker Dindin Manabat to a knee injury.

Manabat sustained a grade 2 MCL sprain and a partial ACL tear in their marathon match against Sta. Lucia last week, a development that would sideline her for the rest of the conference.

Foton would be the first to test the mettle of the Japanese followed by Cignal on Friday and Petron on Saturday in the final match of this tourney that also has UCPB Gen as official insurance provider and Gold’s Gym as official fitness partner.

“This is a very big problem for Foton,” said the noted Serbian tactician. “Although I know that this Japanese team from Kobe is very good, I have no idea on how it plays. Let’s see what will happen. We will do our best to beat them.”

“Jovelyn (Gonzaga), Royse (Tubino) and Rachel (Daquis) were part of the Army team that beat the juniors team of Thailand last year,” said Pascua. “So we will be banking on the experience of our veterans to pull it off. It’s tough, but we will try our very best.”

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