Intense women’s volleyball action returns after a brief holiday lull as the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix resumes with an explosive triple-header Saturday at the University of St. La Salle gymnasium in Bacolod City.
F2 Logistics makes its highly-anticipated debut when it takes on unbeaten Petron at 6 pm following the 4 pm clash between Cocolife and Cignal HD in this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Cignal, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller, Grand Sport, Rebisco, Island Rose, Cloudfone, UCPB Gen and Asics.
Also seeing action in the league’s first offering of “Spike on Tour” in this season-ending conference is two-time champion Foton, which will battle Generika-Ayala in the curtain-raiser at 2 pm.
Matches will be shown live over ESPN5, the league’s official broadcast partner.
No less than Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya is tipped to do the opening serve and formally roll out the red carpet to their homegrown athletes like Petron playmaker April Ross Hingpit and Bernadeth Pons, Cignal HD assistant coach Michelle Laborte and F2 Logistics spiker Fritz Gallenero.
“Bringing the Superliga to our city means a lot to our local fans,” said Gasataya during a press conference graced by PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.
“This is our opportunity to showcase Bacolod City, not just as the sugar source of the Philippines, but we also want to show how much we support the sport. We want to inspire our youth by giving them premium volleyball entertainment.”
But spotlight will surely be on F2 Logistics as it formally opens its campaign against a legitimate title contender in Petron.
Despite tapping only two imports in Kennedy Bryan of the United States and Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela, hopes are still high on the Cargo Movers as they parade prized talents in setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili.
Fajardo and Macandili have gained more confidence and exposure after joining the national team in a 17-day training in Japan as well as campaigning in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 28th Southeast Asian Games.
And while Fajardo gained the attention of Japanese coaches in the boot camp in Okayama City, Osaka and Kobe, Macandili stood the tallest as she was named as 2nd Best Libero in the Asian Seniors.
“We already have a good setter and libero so we don’t feel the need for a third import,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus, adding that middle blockers Aby Marano and Majoy Baron will play crucial roles in their campaign this conference.
“With wing spikers as imports, we have the luxury of resting Ara Galang, who is still recovering from knee injury. We are very optimistic over our chances.”
Winning their first match, however, would not be easy.
The Blaze Spikers are billed as the strongest team on paper with the acquisition of seasoned international campaigners Hillary Hurley, Lindsay Stalzer and Yuri Fukuda to join the already solid core of Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina and Rhea Dimaculangan.
In their previous match against another superpower in Cignal last week, the Blaze Spikers displayed their vaunted firepower as Stalzer and Hurley tallied 26 and 18 markers, respectively, while Molina and Reyes chipped in significant support to notch their second victory.
Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos maintained that it’s still a long way to go.
“This is probably the toughest conference,” he said. “All teams have greatly improved so we must be at our best every game. We can’t afford to take other teams for granted.”