F2 Logistics, Petron and Foton loom as the teams to beat when the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference fires off tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cocolife mentor Moro Branislav was in unison with seven other mentors in saying that the Cargo Movers, the Blaze Spikers and the Tornadoes have what it takes to dominate this prestigious club tourney bankrolled by Isuzu, UCPB Gen and SOGO Hotel with ESPN5, Hyper HD and Aksyon TV as broadcast partners.
“Foton, Petron and F2 Logistics are the three best teams,” said Branislav during a press conference yesterday at the Hotel Amelie in Ermita, Manila.
Foton emerged as one of the favorites after acquiring former Ateneo de Manila star Bea de Leon to join the towering duo of Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.
The Tornadoes also signed former University of the East Shaya Adorador, while Maika Ortiz, CJ Rosario and Gen Casugod will be returning for another tour of duty.
Foton head coach Rommel Abella admitted that there is pressure, but they are more than willing to embrace it.
“It’s an added pressure to us, but pressure is always there,” Abella said.
“Ever since, I’ve been telling my players to take it one game at a time and respect whoever we face.”
The Blaze Spikers, who ruled the previous Grand Prix early this year, were also tagged as favorites as they parade the core of Mika Reyes, Rhea Dimaculangan, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Frances Molina together with collegiate stars Bernadeth Pons and Sisi Rondina.
“All teams are the teams to beat. We will give our best to come up with a good performance,” said Delos Santos, who will also coach the women’s national team that will join as guest squad in this tourney that also has Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Mueller and Grand Sport as technical sponsors.
All eyes will also be on F2 Logistics it parades former De La Salle stalwarts Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, Cha Cruz-Behag and Ara Galang as well as current Lady Spikers Michelle Cobb, Desiree Cheng and Tin Tiamzon.
“We are ready to show them what we got this conference. Expect the unexpected,” said Cargo Movers’ assistant coach Noel Orcollo.
Other teams out to give tough competition are defending champion Cignal, Sta. Lucia Realty, Generika-Ayala, Cocolife and Smart-Army as well as college-based squads United Auctioneers-University of the Philippines (UA-UP) and Cherrylume-University of the East.
The Cargo Movers will test the mettle of the Tornadoes at 6 p.m. following the 4 p.m. curtain-raiser between Generika-Ayala and UA-UP at 4 p.m. and an Indonesian-flavored opening ceremony at 3 pm.