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PSL Grand Prix tips off with powerful import lineup

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Looking to build on the success of their All-Filipino Conferene, the Philippine Superliga will open its Grand Prix Conference, Saturday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna with the most powerful cast of imports to play in the archipelago. Tickets for the event are free with gates set to open at 10:30 a.m.

Fresh off their AVC Club Championships campaign, defending champs Petron Blaze Spikers will face the retooled Cignal HD Spikers in the Conference opener at 1 p.m.

Petron retained its stellar core of local players headlined by PSL MVPs Dindin Santiago-Manabat an Rachel Ann Daquis while adding former Brazil Youth National team stalwarts, versatile attacker Rupia Inck and setter Erica Adachi. Cignal, on the other hand, signed a new cast of locals with most of their AFC lineup playing in collegiate leagues. They will mostly rely on University of Arkansas standout Amanada Anderson and outside hitter Ariel Usher to carry the load throughout the season.

The 3 p.m. Laguna tiff features two of the title favorites with the Foton Tornadoes taking on Meralco Power Spikers.

Foton signed National Team mainstay Jaja Santiago for the conference while adding PSL veteran Lindsay Stalzer and former US Youth National Team player, Katie Messing to shore up their lineup. Meralco, meanwhile, will debut with a host of current and former DLSU Lady Spikers and towering imports Estonian Liis Kullerkann and Christina Alessi.

Other teams’ import include Puerto Rico National Team hitter Linda Morales, who is set to arrive today from campaigning in the World Grand Prix in Turkey, and Kansas University star Sara McClinton will power RC Cola-Air Force while former University of California-Los Angeles star Bojana Todorovic and former University of Southern California spiker Alexis Olgard will suit up for Philips Gold.

The PSL had to apply for the imports’ International Transfer Certificate (ITC):

“A protocol set by the FIVB in acquiring foreign players. It is implemented to give the world volleyball body and the respective national federations of the foreigners, especially the elite players and national team members, a chance to regulate and monitor their transfer to their club teams here. Failure to comply could lead to the players’ two-year suspension from competing in all sanctioned tournaments by the FIVB and their respective national federations.”

“We are now sanctioned and in full compliance with one of the main requirements of the FIVB for the third consecutive year after completing the processing of the ITC of all our imports,” said PSL President Ramon “Tats” Suzara, also an FIVB member and chairman of the marketing and development committee of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC). Suzara also thanked the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) for being very supportive to the PSL and its programs. “LVPI plays a key role in this major development,” he said. “Aside from allowing us to send teams to the Asian Club Championships in Taiwan and Vietnam, LVPI was also very supportive in the transfer of our imports. Now, local volleyball fans will have a chance to witness 12 of the world’s best foreign players live in action.”

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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