WITH loaded lineups bolstered by imports, coaches of the six competing teams expect a level playing field with no clear title favorite in the upcoming Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference.
Defending champion Pocari Sweat has been tagged as the early favorite during the offseason, but Creamline, BaliPure, Power Smashers, Perlas Spikers and Air Force are all capable of contending for the title with the talent in their rosters.
For Jet Spikers coach Jasper Jimenez and even Lady Warriors mentor Rommel Abella, it will be an unpredictable conference with strong imports on board.
“Lahat malakas expect na natin ‘yan kasi lahat ng team nag-reinforce,” said Jimenez.
“Everybody is the team to beat and lahat (ng teams) we have imports na and this tournament is gonna be exciting,” agreed Abella.
BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb, though, reserved his predictions until he sees the teams in action.
“Hindi ko pa ma-gauge, equal footing pa (ang tournament). Siguro pag nag-umpisa na ang tournament (malalaman ang team to beat),” he said.
Bosnian Edina Selimovic and American Michelle Strizak will reinforce Pocari Sweat, Thai hitter Kuttika Kaewpin and American Laura Schaudt will backstop Creamline, returning American import Kaylee Manns and Brazilian spiker Rupia Inck will beef up Perlas Spikers, while Thai spiker Patcharee Saenmuang will help Air Force.
Only BaliPure has yet to announce its set of imports.
Bea Tan of Perlas Spikers agreed that the competition is stacked but expressed confidence in her own squad.
“It’s a level playing field but we also want to believe that we are the team to beat,” said Tan.
“Parehas lahat, walang team na mahina,” added Power Smashers coach Nes Pamilar.
Creamline assistant coach Oliver Almadro, though, didn’t hesitate to divulge which team he thinks will be the toughest to beat in the tournament.
“Defending champion, Pocari ‘di ba?” he said.
The PVL starts on April 30 with Pocari Sweat taking on the Power Smashers, Creamline facing Perlas Spikers and Air Force clashing with BaliPure at The Arena in San Juan.