By Jerome Lagunzad
Retooled Cocolife is expected to make some noise while defending champion F2 Logistics and Petron remain as top favorites in the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix that gets going on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
After making to the semifinal for the first time in the import-laced tourney last year, the Asset Managers intend to sustain their resurgence following an eventful off-season spree to become as the team to watch out for in the tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Mueller, Senoh, Brand Sport and UCPB Gen.
Former Foton import Sara Klisura is among the new faces on Cocolife along with setter Shawna-Lei Santos and Danika Gendrauli from F2 Logistics and ex-Cignal spiker Honey Royse Tubino.
Evergreen Tina Salak, Denden Lazaro, Joanne Bunag, Nerissa Bautista and Mary Jean Balse plus American Taylor Milton are also back, giving Serbian mentor Moro Branislav, who took over the reins from Kungfu Reyes, all the tools he needs to make a deep playoff run.
“All teams have upgraded their respective lineups so this is going to be a tough road for us. We have to prepare hard and be ready. This is going to be a war,” said Branislav, sounding confident about their chances in this tourney that also has ESPN5 as official broadcast partner and Island Rose and LGR as official suppliers.
One-time tourney champion Petron also made some key moves to bolster its intact core. While they lost backups Mina Aganon to Foton and April Ross Hingpit, Bang Pineda and Marivic Meneses to Generika-Ayala, the Blaze Spikers got the services of UST standout Chloe Cortez, Luth Malaluan and Pia Gaiser to boost their defense as well as backup setter Angelica Legacion.
Touted imports Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of United States and libero Yuri Fukuda of Japan will suit up anew alongside mainstays Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes and Rhea Dimaculangan.
“Our campaign last year ended in a heartbreak so we will try our best to win it this time,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos, determined to complete an unfinished business after enduring a costly meltdown against F2 Logistics in last year’s finals.