By Jerome Lagunzad
The Philippine national women’s volleyball team plunges back to training session today at the Arellano gym in Legarda, Manila, with head coach Shaq delos Santos and top Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. officials possibly making the much-awaited announcement of the “Final 12” for a pair of big international tournaments ahead.
Delos Santos, 39, along with assistants Kungfu Reyes and Bryan Esquibel, spent the last few days contemplating on who will don the country’s tricolors in the for the 18th Indonesia Asian Games in August and the AVC Cup in Thailand this September.
So far, former La Salle star Aby Maraño, who is playing for F2 Logistics in the Philippine Superliga, is only assured of the coveted spot after being named as the team skipper last Sunday night by LVPI acting president Peter Cayco.
The remaining spots – 11 regulars and two reserves – could be filled up today “or maybe on Thursday (tomorrow),” according to Cayco, before the Nationals ramp up their preparations by seeing action as a guest team in the PSL Invitational Conference that gets going on July 23.
Creamline ace Alyssa Valdez, a three-time UAAP league MVP winner with Ateneo who served as the country’s flagbearer back in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, is considered a shoo-in for another tour of duty.
Foton ace Jaja Santiago, the reigning UAAP MVP titleholder who was reportedly set to take her talents to Japan in the next few months, could also be a locked for a national team spot together with La Salle’s prized libero Dawn Macandili, named as the Second Best Libero in last year’s AVC Asian Seniors Championships.