MANILA, Philippines -- The Parañaque City Lady Aces know they have a big target on their backs once the first-ever professional season of the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) tips off in the coming months.
The Lady Aces put together a strong lineup bannered by former Far Eastern University (FEU) stalwarts Allana Lim and Clare Castro, both of whom were "protected" by the squad and thus did not enter the draft. Also protected by Parañaque were April Siat, also of FEU, Marydyn Tingcang of University of Santo Tomas, Jamie Alcoy of Adamson University, and Kris Tolentino and Carmina Reyes.
In the draft, Parañaque secured the rights to their team captain last season, Vanessa Santos. She was left off the protected list but still landed in the team via the last pick of the eighth round. They also drafted Angeli Gloriano, Jaira Baarde, and Tanya De La Merced.
"Last season, sobrang undersized kami," noted Santos during the team's official unveiling last Tuesday. "Ngayon, meron na kaming big, point guard, mga wing."
"Maraming nagsasabi na powerhouse ang team namin. Sa tingin ko, totoo," she added, to cheers and laughter from her coaches and teammates.
Yet Santos is also the first to stress that they cannot be complacent even though on paper, they have one of the more solid lineups in the trailblazing league.
Instead, she emphasized the need to work on conditioning and chemistry as they prepare for the start of the tournament. The WNBL is tentatively scheduled to begin after the Holy Week.
"'Di naman porke't powerhouse na kami, magiging confident kami," said Santos. "Marami pa rin kaming room for improvement, lalo na po 'yung chemistry po namin."
Still, the Lady Aces aren't shying away from expectations. Marvin Santos, the Parañaque City councilor who also owns the team, said they had a goal in mind when putting the squad together.
"Sabi ko nga, 'di natin binuo ang team para lang 'di mapahiya. Binuo natin ito para manalo at magkaroon ng karangalan sa dinadala nating city, at 'di mapahiya sa sponsor natin," he said.
Lim, the former UAAP Most Valuable Player who will be the veteran leader of the squad, said they have to embrace the high expectations from their team owner as well as from pundits.
"Once na magbuo ka ng team, you have to aim higher," she said. "So I think andoon na 'yun eh, 'yung expectation. It's about how you prepare. Doon na lang kami magpo-focus."
The team expects to begin training in the coming weeks, as soon as their proposed venue is approved by the Games and Amusements Board.
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