MANILA, Philippines – Veteran setter Tina Salak takes the next step in her volleyball career when she joins the coaching staff of new team Cocolife in the 2017 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference that starts on Saturday at the Arena in San Juan.
After leading Philippine Army for several years and representing the country in various international tournaments, the 40-year-old Salak will now be an assistant to Obet Javier in the season-opening conference.
Salak's presence on the bench is expected to be a boost to the neophyte Cocolife team, which is composed of former stars from Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University, as well as the nucleus of the Arellano University team that ruled the NCAA Season 92 women's volleyball tournament.
Michele Gumabao will be the team's captain, and she will be joined by Denise Lazaro, Wensh Tiu, Erika Alkuino, Rosemarie Vargas, Therese Gaston, Eunice Galang, Anne Esguerra, Rhea Ramirez, Jovie Prado, Regine Arocha and Andrea Marzan.
Former UAAP Most Valuable Player Iris Ortega-Patrona, meanwhile, will make a grand comeback along with Kay Martinez-Daly, who will come in after Mika Esperanza begged off to focus on her studies in medical school.
According to Gumabao, Salak has already been helping them develop chemistry inside and outside the court.
She also instilled the discipline and work ethic acquired from her campaigns in Army and the national team. Salak was a member of the national teams that won silver in the 1995 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta, and the bronze in the 2005 SEA Games in Manila.
"Coach Tina's presence is a necessity in bonding the whole team," said Gumabao. "Coach Tina is both strict and understanding."
"The past week, she really taught us a lot as a team, and I know in such a short amount of time, we can still be competitive," she added. "Coach Tina doesn't look at anyone in our team any differently. We all go through the same rules and training that makes us one as a team."
Team official Joshua Ylaya, meanwhile, expressed his gratitude to Philippine Army for allowing them to "borrow" Salak.
"At least our team can experience the kind of discipline, the kind of fighting spirit she instills to strive for excellence," Ylaya said. "Coach Tina and a champion coach in Coach OBet would surely make us very competitive."
Aside from Cocolife, also campaigning in the season-opening conference are Cignal, Generika, Petron, Foton and another new team in Sta. Lucia Land.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)