BACOOR CITY — The vaunted strength and firepower of Cocolife would be put to an ultimate test when it battles Cignal in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Tuesday at the Bacoor Sports Center (STRIKE Gym).
Action starts at 7 pm while Sta. Lucia Realty and Generika-Ayala tip things off at 4:15 pm, hoping to bounce back from their respective setbacks in this prestigious tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, Rebisco and UCPB Gen with ESPN5 as official broadcast partner.
The Lady Realtors suffered a four-set meltdown to powerhouse Petron, 21-25, 25-18, 17-25, 20-25, while the overhauled Lifesavers collapsed to Foton, 19-25, 25-22, 16-25, 22-25, in the opening-day salvo of this battle that also has Mikasa, Mueller, Senoh, LGR, Gold’s Gym and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
But all eyes will be on Cocolife.
After making it to the semifinals for the first time, the Asset Managers had a major upgrade in their roster, recruiting Serbian coach Moro Branislav to replace Kungfu Reyes.
Reyes, a champion coach with Philippine Army, decided to take a step back and serve as Branislav’s chief deputy so he could focus on his coaching chores with University of Santo Tomas in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
With Branislav on board, Cocolife was able to lure quality talents in former national team stalwart Honey Royse Tubino, Danika Gendrauli, Shawna-Lei Santos and Denice Tan while bringing back the core of veterans Nerissa Bautista, Jane Gonzales, Tina Balse and Denden Lazaro.
The Asset Managers also brought back American Taylor Milton and recruited Serbian Sara Klisura, the hard-hitting open spiker who erupted for a record of 41 points while still donning the jersey of Foton last year.
Branislav, however, believes that winning the title will be very tough.
“All teams have also upgraded their respective rosters so it’s going to be very tough for us,” said the 58-year old mentor, who steered the Tornadoes to the Grand Prix crown two years ago.
“We just have to prepare hard and be ready. This Grand Prix, for my opinion, will never be easy. This is going to be a war.”
Branislav added that winning their first assignment would never be easy.
Despite losing head coach George Pascua and stars like Tubino, Paneng Mercado and Chie Saet to other teams while Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano suffered knee injuries, the HD Spikers remain a solid force to be reckoned with, thanks to the appointment of team manager Edgar Barroga as head coach.
Barroga said he would pin his hopes on high-flying import Jeane Horton of United States with Sonja Milanovic of Bosnia. Veterans Rachel Anne Daquis, Jheck Dionela and Cherry Vivas will be back to carry the cudgels.
“We may have lost some key players, but we were still able to fill in some key positions,” said Barroga, adding that Janine Navarro, Rialen Sante and Shirley Salamagos will all play a crucial role in their campaign.
“With the presence of our seasoned locals and two imports, we are confident that we can still contend with the heavyweights of the Grand Prix.”
Feb 20 at STRIKE Gym Bacoor live on ESPN5 and Hyper on CIgnal
415pm Sta Lucia vs Generika-Ayala
7pm Cocolife vs Cignal
Kung ano yung channel ng TV5 dati, siya din ang sa ESPN5. Ibang channel naman ang AksyonTV sa ESPN5/TV5. Lahat ng channel na ito ay libre at hindi kailangan ng cable.
Tue and Thu games are live on ESPN5 (same channel as TV5). Sat games are live on AksyonTV.
You can also watch all games in HD via Cignal’s HYPER or via YouTube livestream.
AksyonTV is free on ch 41 (Manila) or 29 (Cebu/Davao). Channel 1 on Cignal; Channel 59 on Sky; Channel 78 on Destiny. Hyper is on ch 91 or 261 on Cignal.