MANILA, Philippines – All eyes will be on Foton's new import, Channon Thompson, when the Tornadoes face off against Cignal in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Game time is at 4:15 p.m., with both the Tornadoes and the HD Spikers looking for a crucial win that will boost their quarterfinals bid in the Grand Prix.
A member of the Trinidad and Tobago national team since she was 14, Thompson has vast international experience after starring in the Women's Pan-American Volleyball Cup in 2010 and 2011.
She also led their squad to the FIVB Women's World Championship for the first time following an impressive finish in the NORCECA Continental Tournament last year.
Moreover, the 24-year-old Thompson had campaigned in elite club tournaments in Poland, Russia, Turkey, and France. Before playing in the PSL, her last stop was for Ankara Numune Karayollari in the prestigious Turkish Women’s Volleyball League.
"Our hopes are high," said Foton coach Rommel Abella of their new recruit, who comes in as a midseason replacement for American Brooke Kranda.
"Based on what we've seen, she can play on both ends so we're hoping she can lead us back to the title," he added.
Both Foton and Cignal finished the first round with 3-4 slates to share fourth place in the league standings.
Also seeking to start their second-round campaign on a high note are Cocolife and Sta. Lucia Realty, which face off at 7 p.m.
After finishing the first round at No. 3 with a 4-3 win-loss record, Cocolife is looking to win at least two of their next three games in the second round so as to barge into the Top 4 and clinch a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
"That's our goal," said Cocolife coach Moro Branislav, who knows that a morale-boosting victory over the Lady Realtors will set the tone for their blockbuster clash with unbeaten Petron (8-0) next week.
"Every game will be very crucial," he added. "We need to win two of our next three matches. We have to win (against) Sta. Lucia and Smart, so we will be confident against Petron, which is the best team in the league right now for me."
Branislav's goal, however, will not be easy as the Lady Realtors are also looking to bounce back from a sorry four-set loss against Foton in their last game in the first round.
Sta. Lucia head coach George Pascua said he used the Holy Week break to motivate the local players to step up and support imports Marisa Field of Canada and Bohdana Anisova of Ukraine as they head to the crucial stretch of the classifications.
"The support of the locals is one of our concerns in the first round," said Pascua, who is expecting more from MJ Philips, Jonah Sabete, Pam Lastimosa, Micmic Laborte and Rebecca Rivera.
"Now that every game is very important, this is the perfect time for them to step up," he added.
Sta. Lucia is tied with Foton and Cignal for No. 4 in the standings with a 3-4 slate as well.
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