F2 Logistics parades its powerhouse roster while Marinerang Pilipina gets its baptism of fire when the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference kicks off today (Saturday) at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
After securing the services of Filipino-American Kalei Mau, the Cargo Movers are favored in their 2 p.m. battle with Generika-Ayala in this prestigious women’s club tourney bankrolled by SOGO, Eurotel, PCSO, Cocolife, UCPB Gen, Mueller, Senoh, Asics, Bizooku and One Sport.
Also seeing action in this mid-season conference that also has Team Rebel Sport as official outfitter and Mikasa as official ball are the Lady Skippers, who will test the mettle of Sta. Lucia in the featured encounter at 4 p.m.
With Ronald Dulay as head coach and Vilet Ponce-de Leon as chief assistant, Marinerang Pilipina is tipped to hit the ground running and pounce hard on the Lady Realtors, who have been dwelling the cellar for the past couple of years.
Grizzled veterans Ivy Remulla and Ers Iratay serve as leaders while the promising core of Judith Abil, Seth Rodriguez, Caitlin Viray, Chiara Permentilla, Dimdim Pacres, Cesca Racraquin and Nica Guliman lead the Lady Skippers to a Cinderella run.
“We may be a new team, but we have Ivy and Ers to provide veteran experience,” said team manager Jed Montero, the former University of the Philippines star who is making a return to women’s club league with a new role.
“As much as possible, we want to be competitive right away. We want to show that we can also play at a high level and give other teams like Petron, Foton, Cignal and F2 Logistics a very good fight.”
Still, all eyes will be on the Cargo Movers.
After failing to win the All-Filipino title of this tourney that has ESPN5 and Kapatid TV as broadcast partners for the past two years, F2 Logistics waged a recruiting coup when it acquired Mau from the disbanded United VC.
The 6-foot-2 Mau is a gem of a recruit.
She is a strong attacker and a good defender, giving the Cargo Movers an additional scoring punch aside from Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Kianna Dy.
More than that, she is coming in with wealth of experience after campaigning in club leagues in Puerto Rico and France after finishing her collegiate stint with University of Arizona, where she teamed up with former PSL imports Kendra Dahlke, Penina Snuka and Katarina Pilepic.
“We all know the kind of player Kalei is,” said F2 Logistics team manager Hollie Reyes, adding that she would have an easy time adjusting to setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili.
“She is a very good player who can contribute on both ends. I can say that we’re very fortunate to have him on our team and we’re looking forward to win with her.”
But getting their first win will not be a cakewalk.
Generika-Ayala also upgraded its roster after hiring University of the East scorer Mary Anne Mendrez to join the solid core of Marivic Meneses, Fiola Ceballos, Angeli Araneta and Patty Orendain.
“I think our need for additional scorer has been addressed. Our hopes are high this conference and we’ll work hard to make it back to the semifinals,” said head coach Sherwin Meneses, who led the Lifesavers to a good run in the previous Grand Prix.