SEVERAL schools have recalled their former stars and even acquired the services of graduates from rival teams while several squads will again lean on foreign players as the 10th season of the Shakey’s V-League gets underway on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Eagles, eyeing their third straight championship in the season-opening conference, beefed up its already star-studded squad with the acquisition of Aeriel Patnongon and Rachel Anne Daquis.
Patnongon, a former Lady Eagle, and former FEU and Army star Daquis, will join the squad featuring Alyssa Valdez, Fille Cainglet, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio and Jem Ferrer as the Lady Eagles look to retain the title they won last year over UST.
It won’t be an easy task, however, with nine other teams looking to seize the trophy.
Ateneo will be joined by UST, San Sebastian, Letran and La Salle-Dasmarinas in Group A, while Group B is composed of Perpetual Help, National University, Adamson, Arellano and University of San Carlos.
The first group stage is a single-round robin elims with the top four from each bracket advancing to the quarterfinals. The last eight will again be divided into two and play a single round with the top two in each group moving on to the crossover semifinals. The finals will be a best-of-three series.
The Tigresses, six-time champions, have recalled former stars Aiza Maizo and Rhea Dimaculangan to reinforce the squad led by Maru Banaticla, Judy Ann Caballejo, Maika Ortiz, and rising stars Pamela Lastimosa, Loren Lantin and Carmela Tunay.
Two-time champion San Sebastian, meanwhile, is again fielding Thai reinforcement Jeng Bualee and two-time MVP Suzanne Roces to boost the team composed of Czarina Berbano, Jennelyn Belen, Mae Crisostomo, Ara Mallare and prized find Gretchel Soltones.
“With the league’s former, certified stars joining the current cream of the crop, this is going to be a real battle,” said Moying Martelino, chairman of the organizing Sports Vision.
Arellano University looks set to make its mark in its debut in the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel by signing two of the league’s pioneers — former MVPs Mary Jean Balse and Nerissa Bautista.
Reigning NCAA champion Perpetual also boasts of two reinforcements in Joy Cases and Mei Agarin, who will backstop a team led by last year's MVP Sandra de los Santos, Norie Diaz, April Sartin and Honey Rose Tubino.
University of San Carlos-Cebu, the lone Visayan team in the field, also hopes to make an impact as it tapped Abigail Praca and Regine Obinque.
Letran has signed Thai import Patcharee Sangmuang and Melissa Ogana to spearhead its title drive, while two-time champion Adamson, National University and La Salle Dasmariñas are also expected to show up with top-caliber reinforcements.
The Lady Falcons boasts of a talented local crew that includes Shiela Pineda, Pau Soriano and Princess Listana, while the Lady Bulldogs will be led by Din-din Santiago, Carmina Aganon, Maricar Nepomuceno, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo.