Valdez, Daquis, Marano lead PH team to SEA Games; Maizo-Pontillas misses final cut
Alyssa Valdez, Rachel Anne Daquis and Aby Marano head the core of the Philippine women's volleyball team that will make a return to the SEA Games next month. Jerome Ascano

ALYSSA Valdez, Rachel Anne Daquis, and Aby Marano lead the final lineup for the women’s volleyball team that will compete in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore next month.

Valdez, Daquis, and Marano will be joined by Bea De Leon, Rhea Dimaculangan, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Denden Lazaro, Jia Morado, Maika Ortiz, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Jaja Santiago, and Gretchel Soltones in the team that will be returning to the SEA Games after a long absence.

From the initial 13-woman pool, the lone cut was Aiza Maizo-Pontillas who, just last Friday, stirred a furor on Twitter when she announced that she was dropped from the team after attending practice.

However, there is still a chance Maizo-Pontillas may make the trip as a reserve after Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Romasanta announced that they plan to name one more player to the team.

Romasanta declined to name who the reserve would be.

"This is the best that we have," said Romasanta after announcing the official composition of the 12-woman team on Sports Radio. "Alam ng mga fans ang kakayahan nila."

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The team will be led by Roger Gorayeb as head coach. He will be joined by Tai Bundit, Parley Tupaz, and Edjet Mabbayad in the national coaching staff.

The team will have five players from the Gorayeb-coached Under-23 team that placed seventh in the last Asian championships in Manila, namely Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Soltones, Morado and De Leon.

The rest are standouts from the country's flourishing commercial leagues led by Daquis and Morano, who were named league MVP and Finals MVP, respectively, after Petron's unbeaten run to the Super Liga All-Filipino title. 

"The coaching staff feels it's a good mix," Romasanta said.

At the same time, Romasanta said the team is realistic about its goal of winning a medal in the SEA Games against Asian powerhouse Thailand and Vietnam.

“We are very hopeful but realistic. Thailand is a world-ranked team,” said Romasanta.

Romasanta also said all 12 players have been approved for inclusion to the PH contingent during the delegation registration meeting in Singapore on Friday.

The team will leave for Singapore on June 4 but will not play its first match until June 10.

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