Volleyball stars look forward to fun match-ups in 'Unity Cup'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 04:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Rivalries will be renewed and new match-ups will be created should the long-awaited "Unity Cup" -- an Filipino tournament involving the country's two club volleyball leagues -- come to fruition.

Officials of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) and Premier Volleyball League (PVL) were in the midst of discussions on how to hold the event, but those talks were put on hold due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Sports Vision president Ricky Palou is hopeful that both sides can come to an agreement once meetings resume. Among the issues that have to be hashed out are the format and the broadcast partner, as the two leagues are committed to different networks.

As early as now, the Unity Cup is already generating excitement within the volleyball community and among the players themselves.

"It's really exciting," said Creamline star Alyssa Valdez during an appearance on the "Crossover" podcast. "Nakita lang nila na nagkakalaban-laban kami was when we played in college, in the UAAP. So I think it's interesting also for the fans 'pag mangyayari 'yun."

The unified tournament will give volleyball fans the opportunity to finally see dream match-ups, such as a showdown between PVL powerhouse Creamline and PSL standard-bearer F2 Logistics. That will also breathe life into some old rivalries, including the match-up between Valdez and Ara Galang.

"There's a bigger pool of players na you can watch out for, competing against each other," said Choco Mucho libero Denden Lazaro, who previously saw action in the PSL for Petron and Cocolife.

"As players, we're all looking forward to playing against each other again. Like what Alyssa said, the last time we all played against each other was in college," she added.

"And, a lot of players now in the pro leagues didn't even come from the UAAP. Some came from the NCAA or even in the provinces. So a lot of good players to look out for if that ever happened," Lazaro also said.

In a previous interview, F2 Logistics captain Abigail Maraño also expressed her excitement for the tournament, which she believes will elevate the competition in the country. 

"'Yung mga athlete, gusto mag-improve, gustong gumaling, gustong mag-compete. Mga healthy competition, ganyan," she told ABS-CBN News in April.

"Maganda 'yun, kasi kung maghalo 'yung mga tagisan ng talento ng teams from PSL at PVL, at least, parang magkakatulungan pa rin. May factor pa rin na tulungan na umangat 'yung volleyball, umangat 'yung level ng competitiveness namin as an athlete," she also said.

The volleyball stars also hope that the Unity Cup will bring some harmony in the community. The PSL and the PVL have traditionally competed not just for the players but also for the audience's attention, and debates between the two groups of fans are common, particularly on social media. 

"I think it will really help the community also to improve," said Valdez. "Kasi siyempre playing with other competitive teams, mas marami ka ring matutunan. I think that volleyball in general will benefit on that aspect."

"I think mas mau-unite ang mga fans as well," Lazaro said, for her part.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).