PSL Manila coach Moro Branislav on Tuesday warned his team of the Olympics-level competition that awaits them in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena from October 18 to 23.
The Serbian mentor said he is pleased to see total team effort in practice on Tuesday morning but made sure that his wards, made up of seven foreign players blended with some of the biggest stars of the Super Liga, know what they’ll be up against next month.
“This is a very big competition, maybe five times more competitive than the Asian club championship,” Branislav, a globe-trotting coach who has had tours of duties in 11 countries, said after the team's three-hour practice at the Arellano University School of Law gym.
“The competition here is the same, or even better, than the Olympic Games,” he added. “The top players in at least six teams are all capable of playing in the Olympics. We should not be complacent. This is a very important and serious tournament.”
Powerhouse Rexona Sesc Rio of Brazil will parade Gabi Guimares, Juicely Barreto and Anne Bujis, while Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul of Turkey will be beefed up US national players Jordan Larson and Rachel Adams, Brazil star Thaisa Menezes and Tijana Boskovic of Serbia.
Bangkok Glass will be bannered by Southeast Asian superstars Pleumjit Thinkaow and Wilavan Apinyapong and imports Ashley Frazier and Nguyen, while US team captain Foluke Akinradewo will lead Volero Zurich.
Branislav declined to make any prediction but admitted it is difficult to prepare his team with the locals players also preparing for the coming Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix, which kicks off on October 8.
“This is going to be difficult,” said Branislav. “Everyday, at least three to four players are coming because they are also preparing for the PSL (Grand Prix). We have to train hard and (be) complete because we have a very short time for this competition.”
“By next week, we have to start our training matches with some PSL teams. It will determine where we are right now and what are the teams we need to work on. We will also know the mix of players we will use come game time,” he added.
Present during the morning training were skipper Rachel Anne Daquis along with her RC Cola Army teammate Jovelyn Gonzaga, Frances Molina and Jen Reyes of Petron, Mika Reyes and Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics and Jaja Santiago of Foton as well as imports Ekaterina Krivets of Russia, Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Yuri Fukuda of Japan, Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States and Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand.