Pumped-up Foton Pilipinas opens campaign v Hong Kong

Even after Foton came one game short of winning the PSL All-Filipino crown, they somehow proved their legitimacy as an elite group heading into the 2016 Asian Women’s Club Championship.

Take away their vulnerabilities as a young and stilll maturing team and replace it with some veteran pressence on top of 2 reliable imports, the Tornadoes, or shall we say Foton Pilipinas, may just prove to be a beautiful — and lethal — affair inside the volleyball court.

The home team, consisting of the Tornadoes’ core and bolstered by F2 Logistics star Aby Marano, RC Cola Army’s Jovelyn Gonzaga, Petron Tri-Activ libero Jennylyn Reyes and imports Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher, is expected to cop an easy win when they start their AVC campaign Saturday in Laguna.

Six spikers from this roster will play their first-ever international game, including the high-flying Cherry Rondina who, during the selection process, expressed her excitement in being part of the country’s representatives.

“Sobrang blessed ko talaga, nakaka-proud talaga para sa pamilya ko kasi kahit ganito lang ako kaya ko palang makisabay pwede ako, pwede akong maging part,” the Cebu native said.

Foton finished sixth in their training-competition at the 2016 Sealect Tuna Thailand Volleyball League and had good exposure in preparation for their duties in the biggest international volleyball tournament in the Philippines in recent memory.

The wards of coach Fabio Menta would need to win at least one of their 2 preliminary matches to advance to the next round and facing Hong Kong, a team devoid of big names, could jumpstart their campaign.

As Menta, the Italian mentor tapped to whip this squad into shape, noted, his initial goal is to bring Foton to the quarterfinals and then take it from there. — By John Chester Fajardo