Foton Pilipinas made a recruiting coup when it tapped a noted Italian coach to call the shots when it campaigns in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship from Sept. 3 to 11 at the Alonte Sports Center in Biñan City.
Fabio Menta, a celebrated international coach who manned the sidelines for the national women’s volleyball team of Cook Islands last year was formally hired by Foton Pilipinas in a bid to hit its target of reaching the semifinals of the prestigious tourney where the brightest teams in Asia compete for pride and glory.
Menta arrived last week and immediately buckled down to work. He will fly with the team to Sisaket, Thailand on August 20 to compete in the 2016 Select Tuna Thailand Volleyball Championship as part of its buildup for the AVC battle.
Foton Pilipinas will get a glimpse of what lies ahead as it landed on Group A with Bangkok Glass, Sisaket and Bangsit University in the Thai joust which starts next week.
“We’re looking at a fourth-place finish in the AVC,” said Menta in a press briefing presided by no less than Foton president Rommel Sytin, team manager Jose Mari Angulo and the entire squad bannered by imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer as well as guest players Aby Maraño, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Jen Reyes.
“The team is a very good team; it’s a mix of enthusiasm and youth. I’m here to develop them into a higher level volleyball players to be able to play against strong teams like China, Japan and Thailand.”
Aside from the AVC joust, Menta will also stay in the country to spearhead Foton in its title-retention campaign in the 2016 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix starting this October.
“This is a breakthrough for Philippine volleyball,” Sytin said. “With Fabio around, our players can learn first-hand how it is being done in the international arena while our coaches can absorb the technology he brings. We’re all glad to welcome him on board.”
Sytin also added that they have formally acquired the services of prized middle blocker Dindin Manabat, a development that reunited her with sister Jaja Santiago.
A 6-foot-2 former top overall pick, Manabat powered Petron to the title of the 2014 PSL Grand Prix and a historic 13-0 sweep of the 2015 PSL All-Filipino. She sat down this conference after delivering a baby girl last month.
“Dindin would be a big boost to our title defense,” added Sytin, who was at the sidelines when the Tornadoes succumbed to F2 Logistics in the finals of the 2016 PSL All-Filipino Conference last Wednesday.
“With her and Jaja at the net, our defense will greatly improved. We want to bring her in for the Grand Prix, but it still depends on how fast her body recovers after giving birth last month.”