New coaches. New players. New imports.
With these changes, the Banko Perlas Spikers hope to finally break into the Final Four of the Premier Volleyball League 2nd Reinforced Conference. The team finished 5th in both the Reinforced and Open conferences of the PVL’s inaugural season last year.
“Right now, our target is to make it to the final four first. From there we’ll see if we reach the finals. We’ll work on making the team work together inside the court,” said new Banko Perlas head coach Ariel dela Cruz.
BanKo Perlas named dela Cruz as head coach of the Spikers, replacing Thai mentor Nai Muhammed in the second season of the PVL. He will be joined by former national team member Michelle Carolino in the coaching staff.
Dela Cruz said they got new players from the UAAP. The line-up now includes strong imports in former Thai national team member Jutarat Montripila and American outside hitter Kia Bright, whose goal is to make her teammates’ job easier.
“I consider myself a very versatile hitter. I just want everybody to play their best and I’m prepared to take on that extra weight and help the team,” she said.
A product of the University of Central Florida, Bright admitted having to adjust to the local gameplay. “The speed of play is a little bit slower, but there are a lot more rallies,” she said. “They play with so much heart and they don’t just give up on plays.”
Completing the BanKo Perlas Spikers line-up are Team Captain Sue Roces, Mae Tajima, Giselle Tan, Ella de Jesus, Amanda Villanueva, Joy Dacoron, Jem Ferrer, Amy Ahomiro, Fhen Emnas, and Nicole Tiamzon.
BPI Direct BanKo, Inc., a subsidiary of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, began supporting the team last year to promote the sport nationwide and reach out to more clients. BanKo focuses on delivering financial solutions to the unbanked and underserved, thereby bringing the benefits of financial inclusion to many Filipinos.
“We have a very exciting team. We have a combination of imports and good local players,” said BanKo president Jerome Minglana, adding that the team’s growth is similar to and consistent with the BanKo brand. “We can give a good fight against all the teams so long as we play to our full potential.”
The Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference opened last May 6. BanKo Perlas Spikers will first appear in this year’s tournament on May 12 at Tuguegarao City, playing against Creamline Cool Smashers and Pocari Sweat Air Force.
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