MANILA, Philippines -- After falling short of the podium in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference, Choco Mucho is optimistic that they can get the job done in the Invitational.
The Flying Titans made it to the Final 4 of the Open Conference earlier this year but lost to sister Creamline in the semis. They were on the brink of winning bronze after a four-set win against Cignal in Game 1 of the third-place series, but ended up losing by points ratio.
But armed with longer preparation and better chemistry, the Flying Titans believe that they can go a step further in the Invitational Conference that starts on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
"We're hoping na we'll be able to enter the Final 4 this conference, and maka-podium finish ang team," said veteran setter Jem Ferrer recently.
The Flying Titans will still feature their core anchored by setter Deanna Wong, middle blocker Bea de Leon, and prolific spiker Katrina Tolentino. This time around, however, they believe they have developed better connections with the likes of Desiree Cheng, Cherry Nunag, Isa Molde and Aduke Ogunsanya, who were newcomers in the Open Conference.
"In the last conference, almost one and a half months lang kaming magkasama," said Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro.
"Hopefully 'yung good camaraderie nila ngayon, 'yung cohesiveness nila ngayon throughout the training, I guess, will turn into winnings na this coming conference," he added.
But Almadro warned against complacency, noting that every team is a contender in the Invitational Conference. Seven local teams will compete in a single round-robin format, with the top four advancing to the semifinals.
There, they will be joined by two guest teams -- Japan's Kobe Shinwa Women's University and Taiwanese club KingWhale Taipei.
"Not to count out all the teams, they are also preparing. But I am confident with my players, and they're happy with their training. Hopefully we turn that into winning naman," said Almadro.
The Flying Titans open their campaign on Saturday against the Chery Tiggo Crossovers at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.