MANILA, Philippines – Sister teams Smart Prepaid and Cignal are optimistic that they can have solid campaigns in the upcoming Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix, which opens on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Center.
Smart Prepaid is the league's newest club, formed just days before the tournament's opening date.
Nevertheless, they are determined to come up with impressive performances in the Grand Prix, with veteran coach Ronald Dulay calling the shots for the team. A pair of former Cuban national team members in Gyselle de la Caridad Silva and Lisbet Arredondo Reyes will anchor the squad.
Silva was part of the Cuban squad that campaigned in the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan in 2010 and in the Pan American Games in Mexico in 2011.
She also has significant experience in elite club leagues in Turkey, Azerbaijan and China.
Reyes also saw action for Cuba in the World Championship before playing in club teams in Indonesia and Spain.
"We may not be as star-studded as the other teams, but I can assure that we will play hard from start to finish," said Dulay, who will also lean on locals Jeanie Delos Reyes, Genie Sabas, Florence Madulid, Hezzy Acuna and Janet Serafica.
Meanwhile, the Cignal HD Spikers are looking to pull off some surprises despite losing several key players in Honey Royse Tubino, Maica Morada, Paneng Mercado, and Chie Saet. They will also be playing sans injured stars Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano.
It will be up to veteran open spiker Rachel Anne Daquis to lead the way for Cignal, though she will get help from new recruits Janine Navarro, Rialen Sante, and Shirley Salamagos.
They will also have a new coach in Edgar Barroga with two-time champion Rico de Guzman serving as his top deputy.
“This is a fighting and very exciting team,” said Barroga, stressing that American leaper Jeane Horton and Bosnian spiker Sonja Milanovic will be at the helm of their attack.
“We may have lost some key players, but we were able to fill up all key positions. With the presence of our seasoned locals and two powerful imports, we’re confident that we can contend against the heavyweights of the Grand Prix.”
The PSL Grand Prix formally opens on February 24 at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.