MANILA, Philippines – All eyes will be on the Foton Tornadoes when they parade their powerful roster in the Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference that opens on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
By signing Ateneo de Manila University standout Bea de Leon, the Tornadoes have emerged as the team to beat in the tournament.
Foton team owner Rommel Sytin noted that the presence of the 5-foot-11 de Leon further bolstered their frontline, which already features 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago and 6-foot-1 Dindin Santiago-Manabat, as well as national team pool members Maika Ortiz, CJ Rosario, and Gen Casugod.
The Tornadoes also recruited University of the East's Shaya Adorador, who can provide another scoring punch for Foton.
"As the league becomes competitive, we'll see how our 'Triple Tower' of Bea, Dindin and Jaja can blend together to give us our first ever Invitationals championship," said Sytin, whose team is eyeing its first title since ruling the Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016.
"They've all played together, and chemistry will not be a problem," he assured. "Although this is their first time to play together after college, their partnership will surely bring a lot of excitement to PSL fans."
However, it will not be an easy road for Foton as several other teams are also determined to take home the crown. Petron, in particular, has an intact roster composed of national team stalwarts Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Frances Molina.
F2 Logistics, meanwhile, will have the services of former De La Salle University stars Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron and Desiree Cheng along with their core of Kim Fajardo, Aby Maraño, and Cha Cruz.
Another emerging powerhouse is Sta. Lucia Realty, which will parade another former Ateneo star -- Jhoanna Maraguinot -- along with other UAAP standouts from Far Eastern University -- Jeanette Villareal, Toni Rose Basas, and Carly Hernandez.
Sytin likes his team's chances, however.
"Petron and F2 Logistics continue to be the teams to beat while Sta. Lucia is also tough, with its new acquisitions," he noted. "But with our recruitment of Bea, we are expecting to be competitive and attract a spectrum of fan base that will benefit Foton and the PSL."
The Tornadoes will open their campaign against the Cargo Movers on Saturday, following the opening game between Generika-Ayala and United Auctioneers-UP.
There will be an opening ceremony at 3 p.m.
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