Top local players intend to return the favor to Thai heavyweight Est Cola starting on Thursday when the final round of the 2016 PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women’s volleyball tournament gets going at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
After laying a big fat egg in the Thai-Denmark Super League last month, several members of the PSL All Stars from F2 Logistics, Petron and RC Cola-Army should have enough motivation to get back at their Thai counterparts in the inter-club tourney bankrolled by Senoh, Mikasa, Mueller, Asics and Grand Sport with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
Spikers Cha Cruz, Aby Marano and the rest of the Cargo Movers will have the first crack at Est Cola before two-time champion Petron and three-time titlist take their respective turns in a single-round battle patterned after the FIVB Grand Prix format.
Petron coach George Pascua, who handled the PSL Selection, admitted they are still licking the wounds inflicted by Bangkok Glass, Idea Khonkaen and 3BB Nokhonnont in the Thai meet.
But Pascua is confident they can achieve their bid of exacting a sweet revenge before an anticipated big local crowd.
“It’s going to be a very exciting battle,” said Pascua. “We learned a lot playing against the Thais and I expect the team to use that experience to its advantage when we face Est Cola in the PSL. It will surely be an emotional game because we all want to redeem ourselves against them.”
But it’s easier said than done, with Est Cola bringing in the nucleus of Thailand national team B bannered by Chatchu-on Moksri, a 16-year-old prodigy who has seen action in the AVC Asia Cup in China and the FIVB World Championship in Italy last year.
Moksri also suited up for the Thai team that finished next to China in the AVC Asian U23 Women’s Championship in Manila last year.
The Philippines, for its part, finished seventh.
Aside from Moksri, Est Cola will also have the likes of FIVB World Championship veterans Jarasporn Bundasak and Tinchaya Boonlert as well as Anisa Yotpinit, Wipawee Srithong, Patchaporn Sittisad, who all competed in the FIVB U23 Women’s Championship in Turkey.
“Aside from treating fans to an elite level of competition, the participation of Est Cola will also give our local coaches and players a taste of competing against a topnotch team. This doesn’t only increase the level of competition, but also helps Philippine volleyball in general,” said PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, a ranking executive of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).
“We need more of this kind of competition. We have to expose our players to top-flight tourneys if we seriously want to regain our lofty status in the region.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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