Sister teams SMART Prepaid Giga Hitters and Cignal HD Spikers vow to make strong impact when they march to the Chooks-to-Go/Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, which fires off on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
Bankrolled despite being formed near the league’s opening date, SMART Prepaid are tipped to go all-out to come up with an impressive finish in this tourney.
Seasoned mentor Ronald Dulay will be at the helm, together with a pair of former members of the Cuban national team in Gyselle De La Caridad Silva and Lisbet Arredondo Reyes.
Silva was part of the Cuban squad that campaigned in the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan in 2010, and in the Pan American Games in Mexico in 2011. She also has significant experience in elite club leagues in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and China.
On the same note, Reyes also saw action for Cuba in the World Championship before playing in club teams in Indonesia and Spain.
“We may not be as star-studded as the other teams, but I can assure l that we will play hard from start to finish,” said Dulay, adding that veteran liberos Sha Torres and Tin Agno will fill the backline, while Jeanie Delos Reyes, Genie Sabas, Florence Madulid, Hezzy Acuna and Janet Serafica round out the roster.
Also tipped to pull off some surprises in this battle — which will formally kick off on February 24 at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex — are the HD Spikers.
Despite having lost some key players like Honey Royse Tubino, Maica Morada, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet and the injured Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano, Cignal still remain a solid force in the league.
Veteran Rachel Anne Daquis will serve as the leader, while Jheck Dionela, Cherry Vivas and May Macatuno — as well as new recruits Janine Navarro, Rialen Sante, and Shirley Salamagos — will back her up in towing the HD Spikers back to the crown.
They will also have a new coach in Edgar Barroga, with two-time champion Rico de Guzman serving as his top deputy.
“This is a fighting and very exciting team,” said Barroga, stressing that American leaper Jeane Horton and Bosnian spiker Sonja Milanovic will be at the helm of their attack.
“We may have lost some key players, but we were able to fill up all key positions. With the presence of our seasoned locals and two powerful imports, we’re confident that we can contend against the heavyweights of the Grand Prix,” the veteran mentor added.