PHILIPPINE Super Liga president Ramon Suzara believes the mix of talent, height, and heart of the seven local players will blend seamlessly with the seven foreign players they will tap to form a competitive team in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena set from October 18 to 23.
After a month of deliberation, the PSL coaches, headed by training and development director Sammy Acaylar of Cignal, named wing spikers Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga of RC Cola-Army and Frances Molina of Petron; middle blockers Mika Reyes of F2 Logistics and Jaja Santiago of Foton; setter Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics; and libero Jen Reyes of Petron as members of the Magnificent 7.
Daquis, Gonzaga, Molina and Jen Reyes are veteran international campaigners after seeing action in the Southeast Asian Games and some Asian tournaments, while the 6-foot-5 Santiago and 5-foot-11 Mika Reyes were tapped due to their ceiling and potential to become the country’s cornerstones in future major tournaments.
Fajardo is also a perfect addition as she is regarded as one of the brightest young setters in the country today. In fact, she reportedly impressed a pair of foreign coaches after leading La Salle to the UAAP title earlier this year.
“These players will be our future,” said Suzara, a ranking executive of the Asian Volleyball Confederation and the International Volleyball Federation. “They are young, tall and very talented. We expect them to train hard, pick up some valuable lessons from their foreign counterparts and help our national team program in the future.”
Suzara noted that the Magnificent 7 was culled from a pool of 27 players nominated by eight PSL coaches. Then, they joined a one-day tryout and were assessed based on their talent, skills and potential.
“Three to five years from now and these players will be the same players who will represent us in the Asian Games in 2018 and the SEA Games in 2019 that will be held here in Manila,” Suzara said. “So exposing them to a world-class competition is a major boost to their careers. It is the PSL’s humble contribution to the national team program of the LVPI (Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc.)”
PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico added that more than their physical attributes, it is their character, fighting spirit and wholesome personality that make them perfect for this kind of competition.
A former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and now president of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa), Juico cited Mika Reyes as perfect example for being a powerful player, a good daughter, a distinguished student-athlete with a degree in Psychology from La Salle and the league’s new ambassador with massive fans and followers from all walks of life.
Aside from her, Daquis, Gonzaga, Molina, Fajardo, Santiago and Jen Reyes also offer rags-to-riches stories that makes them easy to love and admire.
“More than their performance on the court, it is also important to take note of their image off the court,” Juico said. “These girls didn’t become successful overnight. They all worked hard to get where they are right now. They are here for a reason, to inspire their fans and other young players as well as spread the gospel of hard work, determination and hope through volleyball.”
“Their selection is in line with the league’s mission of bringing out the best in every Filipina. They display what the league has been promoting which is Filipina beauty and power,” he added.