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Foton debuts against hometown Thai team

Foton Pilipinas formally kicked off its campaign in the 2016 Select Tuna Thailand Volleyball Championship against the home team, Sisaket, Wednesday night at the Wi Sommai gymnasium in Sisaket Province, Thailand.

But head coach Fabio Menta said the final score would be the least among their concerns.

Menta, the Italian tactician brought in to guide Foton Pilipinas to a projected semifinal finish in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship (AWCC) on Sept. 3 to 11, said he wants to give the team an idea on high level competions.

“Today, as a new coach bringing in new ideas, the score is the last thing I am thinking of,” said Menta, who had a significant tour of duty with Cook Islands before being appointed as Foton head coach last month.

“I want to see the discipline and game plan, obsessive research of players trying to disrupt their game and team spirit. I want to keep in mind that our real opponent is not this team (Sisaket), but Hong Kong on the 3rd of September in the AWCC.”

Foton Pilipinas landed in Sisaket late Sunday without prized middle blocker Jaja Santiago and opposite Jovelyn Gonzaga, two vital players who are tipped to get the lion’s share of minutes in the AWCC.

Santiago is tied up with her school chores at National University while Gonzaga failed to secure travel permit since she is an enlisted member of the Philippine Army.

Menta said although imports Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher are on board as well as guest players Aby Marano and Jen Reyes as well as mainstays Cherry Rondina, Patty Orendain and EJ Laure, the absence of Santiago and Gonzaga still deals a major blow to their preparation.

“Not having these main players when you try to mechanize your movements is a major step back to your work,” he said.

After Sisaket, which is composed of former and current members of the Thailand national team, Foton Pilipinas will be testing the mettle of Bangkok Glass and Rungsit University.