MANILA, Philippines -- After losing key pieces from their title-run in the 2019 Spikers' Turf Reinforced Conference, Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor turned to some familiar faces to fill in the void and bolster their Open Conference campaign.
With Far Eastern University opting to join the second conference, Jude Garcia, JP Bugaoan, and Owen Suarez – who helped the HD Spikers in clinch their fourth title in the league last July – will be suiting up for the Tamaraws this August.
Garcia and Bugaoan were vital in Cignal's success in their best-of-3 finals series against Air Force in the Reinforced Conference.
Left scrambling for replacements, Clamor was able to convince a former teammate of his to come out from retirement and fill in one of the remaining roster slots.
The rookie tactician was able to secure the services of former UAAP Season 72 MVP and now ABS-CBN analyst AJ Pareja.
"Actually si AJ Pareja nag-retire na, kasi gusto niyang mag-focus sa career [niya] as doctor, pero in-encourage ko siya to play indoor again dahil sa tingin ko malaki pa ang matutulong niya sa team," said Clamor.
Pareja and Clamor played together for Systema in the Philippine Superliga in 2013.
Clamor is confident that despite his long layoff from the game, Pareja can still provide Cignal with a much-needed presence above the net.
"His maturity, experience, and leadership can help a lot sa team. He was also a former National team player and UAAP MVP during his time, he is very fit to play pa rin," said Clamor of the 6-foot-4 Pareja.
Meanwhile, Sandy Montero, who has played with Cignal before and was also a former teammate of Clamor, will be making his comeback with the HD Spikers after suiting up for Air Force last conference.
Another player who will be making his comeback this Open Conference is five-time UAAP Best Setter Ish Polvorosa, who was forced to skip last conference as he needed to focus on his election campaign.
Completing Cignal's roster is former University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon Alfred Valbuena.
With the team's late additions, expect the HD Spikers to make another hard run to the championship this Open Conference which begins on August 20 at the Paco Arena in Manila.
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