It’s going to be a three-cornered battle as the Cocolife Asset Managers, Petron Blaze Spikers, and F2 Logistics Cargo Movers loom as heavy favorites in the 2018 Chooks-to-Go/Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, which fires off on Saturday, February 17, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
After barging into the semifinals for the first time last year, the Asset Managers have stacked their roster with quality talent, making them a solid force to be reckoned this time around.
The Asset Managers acquired import Sara Klisura from Foton; setter Shawna-Lei Santos, and Danika Gendrauli from F2 Logistics; and spiker Honey Royse Tubino from Cignal, to join the veteran-laden crew of Tina Salak, Denden Lazaro, Joanne Bunag, Nerissa Bautista and Mary Jean Balse. American Taylor Milton is their other reinforcement.
For good measure, Cocolife have also tapped noted Serbian mentor Moro Branislav to replace Kungfu Reyes, who slid down to assistant coach to shift his focus to the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses.
“All teams have upgraded their respective lineups, so this is going to be a tough road for us. We have to prepare hard and be ready. This is going to be a war,” said Branislav.
Not to be outdone, Petron also made some key additions to fortify their intact core.
The Blaze Spikers lost bench players Mina Aganon to Foton, and April Ross Hingpit, Bang Pineda and Marivic Meneses to Generika-Ayala, but have acquired former UST standout Chloe Cortez, Luth Malaluan, and Pia Gaiser to boost their defense, as well as backup setter Angelica Legacion.
Imports Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of United States and libero Yuri Fukuda of Japan will be back to join Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes and Rhea Dimaculangan in their hunt in this tourney, which will formally open at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex on Saturday, February 24.
“Our campaign last year ended in a heart-break so we will try our best to win it this time,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, recalling their meltdown in the best-of-three finals series against F2 Logistics last year.
True enough, reigning champions Cargo Movers remain strong.
Despite losing Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, and Majoy Baron to the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, F2 Logistics retain their strength with the acquisition of middle blocker Lourdes Clemente and the return of imports Kennedy Bryan of United States and Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela.
The Cargo Movers also added that Japanese libero Minami Yoshioka to fill the defensive void created by Macandili’s absence.
“We may have lost some players, but I think we’ll be fine,” said F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus, who will be banking on veterans Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, and the returning Ara Galang anew.