Philippine Superliga (PSL)-Manila may have a rock-solid unit, but expectations should be tempered when it competes in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena on October 18 to 23.
A week after formally opening training camp, the seven Filipina and seven foreign players are already developing chemistry inside and outside the court in preparation for the most prestigious volleyball spectacle in the world next to the Olympics.
Team captain Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga of RC Cola-Army; Frances Molina and Jen Reyes of Petron; Mika Reyes and Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics; and Jaja Santiago of Foton all reported in perfect shape as they brace for an all-out war against the world’s best volleyball players.
Ekaterina Krivets of Russia, Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Yuri Fukuda of Japan, Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States and Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand will be backing the Filipinas, who are looking to come up with a decent finish in this week-long volleyball spectacle.
But head coach Moro Branislav doesn’t want to make any promises.
“This is a very big competition, maybe five times more competitive than the Asian club championship,” said Branislav, the seasoned Serbian coach is being supported by Shun Takahashi of Japan and Sammy Acaylar in preparing the team.
“The competition here is the same, or even better, than the Olympic games. The top players in at least six teams are all capable of playing in the Olympics. We should not be complacent. This is a very important and serious tournament.”
Branislav added that although everybody is already on board, they have yet to train in full force as some of them are also preparing with their mother clubs for the 2016 PSL Grand Prix that kicks off on October 8.
Morales, for one, will be seeing action for Cignal while Niemer will be suiting up for Petron and Stalzer for Foton.
Even Branislav will be coaching in the PSL Grand Prix as he is tipped to replace Fabio Menta as head coach of Foton.
“This is going to be difficult,” said Branislav, who already met the Tornadoes on Monday night. “Everyday, at least three to four players are coming because they are also preparing for the PSL (Grand Prix). We have to train hard and complete because we have a very short time for this competition.”
“By next week, we have to start our training matches with some PSL teams. It will determine where we are right now and what are the teams we need to work on. We will also know the mix of players we will use come game time.”