THE second season of the groundbreaking Philippine Superliga welcomes a new team in Air Asia-Zest to provide fresh challenge to five teams led by PSL Invitationals champion TMS-Army when the PSL Grand Prix 2013 unwraps on November 10 at The Arena in San Juan.
Aside from TMS-Army and Air Asia-Zest, also vying in this tournament are PLDT, Cignal, Petron and Cagayan Valley. Bingo Milyonaryo is not fielding a team although it was instrumental in the launch of the league.
The Grand Prix, faithful to its theme: 'Elevating the Game,' will bring in some A-list international players with experience in FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) play to raise the level of competition.
Players from the United States, China, Japan and Thailand have been tapped to reinforce the six teams but organizing SportsCore and PSL President Ramon 'Tats' Suzara said his group is still negotiating with a couple more international players to add flavor to the league.
The teams will be composed of players who have ended their collegiate duties but want to continue with their playing careers. Athletes who have played in the national team and those who aspire to join the national pool, however, were picked directly by the coaches.
The Grand Prix will also feature a parallel tournament for men, the first time an event for male volleyball players is being organized outside the collegiate leagues.
Suzara said the men's event aims to revive interest in men's volleyball alongside the continuing success being gained by the female players in the sport.
The PSL, according to Suzara, also aims to support the ongoing reorganization of the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) by focusing on high-end tournaments which can provide a pool of talents for the future national teams.
The PSL backers include Asics, Mikasa, LGR and Jinling Sports. Solar Sports Enterntainment remains the PSL's valuable broadcast partner and is dubbed as 'The Home of the PSL.'
"The PSL is elevating the game to a higher level with the Grand Prix," said Suzara. "We have gauged the strength of the teams during the Invitational tournament and the teams have initiated high-level recruitment to fortify their rosters. We will not be surprised if we see star players jumping fences before the start of the Grand Prix."
Cignal coach Sammy Acaylar, Cagayan Valley mentor Ness Pamilar, and Petron coach Vilet Ponce-de Leon are hot on the trail of several players, although TMS-Army coach Rico de Guzman and PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb are confident with their almost intact lineups.
Coaching the new team Air Asia-Zest is Ronald Dulay.