MANILA, Philippines – A three-cornered battle is expected as Cocolife, Petron, and F2 Logistics loom as heavy favorites in the upcoming Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix.
The event fires off on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, with a formal opening scheduled on February 24 at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex.
After barging into the semifinals for the first time last year, the Cocolife Asset Managers have stacked their roster with quality talents, making them a force to be reckoned with in the tournament.
The Asset Managers acquired import Sara Klisura from Foton, setter Shawna-Lei Santos and Danika Gendrauli from F2 Logistics, and spiker Honey Royse Tubino from Cignal. They join a veteran crew headlined by Tina Salak, Denden Lazaro, Joanne Bunag, Nerissa Bautista and Mary Jean Balse with American Taylor Milton as the other reinforcement.
Cocolife also tapped Serbian mentor Moro Branislav to replace Kungfu Reyes, who slid down to an assistant coaching position in order to focus on his duties with University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP.
"All teams have upgraded their respective lineups so this is going to be a tough road for us. We have to prepare hard and be ready. This is going to be a war," said Branislav.
Petron has also made some key additions while still retaining an intact core.
The Blaze Spikers lost bench players Mina Aganon to Foton and April Ross Hingpit, Bang Pineda and Marivic Meneses to Generika-Ayala, but acquired former UST standout Chloe Cortez, Luth Malaluan and Pia Gaiser to boost their defense as well as backup setter Angelica Legacion.
Imports Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of the United States and libero Yuri Fukuda of Japan will be back to join Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes and Rhea Dimaculangan in their campaign.
"Our campaign last year ended in a heartbreak so we will try our best to win it this time," said Petron coach Shaq delos Santos, referring to their massive meltdown in the finals of the PSL Grand Prix last year against F2 Logistics.
Indeed, the defending champions are still a force to be reckoned with even though they lost Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, and other players of De La Salle University.
F2 Logistics retained its strength as they acquired middle blocker Lourdes Clemente, while welcoming back imports Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez.
The Cargo Movers also added Japanese libero Minami Yoshioka to fill in the void created by Macandili's absence.
"We may have lost some players, but I think we'll be fine," said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus, who will bank on Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, and the comebacking Ara Galang.
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