Right after powerhouse Petron completed a dominant, back-to-back title conquest of the PSL Grand Prix a year ago, there was no reason not to believe that a three-peat was on its way.
But that is no longer the case for the Blaze Spikers following a major revamp to start the decade. Safe to say, the race for a Grand Prix championship is wide open when the action commences on February 29.
“Opportunity nga ‘yon kasi lagi natin sinasabi Petron [team to beat]. So kami naman, laging gan’un ang mentality namin. Laging gusto namin makarating ng championship — ‘yun ‘yung goal namin,” said F2 Logistics assistant coach Noel Orcullo.
“So big opportunity, why not grab it?”
The star-studded Petron underwent an explosion, starting with a coaching change that saw Shaq Delos Santos replaced in favor of Emil Lontoc.
Mika Reyes then transferred to Sta. Lucia; Rhea Dimaculangan and Chin Basas moved to Generika-Ayala; then Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons decided to focus on beach volleyball. Meanwhile, Denden Lazaro, Mela Tunay, and Chloe Cortez took their acts to the Premier Volleyball League.
This string of player movements opens up a golden opportunity not just for the Cargo Movers. Cignal, Generika-Ayala, Chery Tiggo, Sta. Lucia, PLDT, and Marinerang Pilipina all have a chance to seize.
“[The team] Who’s more determined and hungrier, I think, have the capacity to get that championship,” remarked Chery Tiggo head coach Aaron Velez.
Make no mistake — Petron still has the pieces to contend for a title, such as Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Rem Palma. But this time around, the path to a three-peat is more grueling than it could have been.
“This time talaga we will try our best na mapabilang ulit doon.
“Siyempre, ang goal ng Petron pa rin ay masama sa championship. Ang sabi nga may total revamp, pero naniniwala pa rin ako sa sistema na meron kami,” Lontoc said.
To turn the intensity up a notch, a one import per team rule will be in full effect throughout the season-opening conference.