ATENEO may be looking solid in its bid to regain the Shakey’s V-League title, but the coming First Conference of Season 11 remains a wide-open race among the 12-team field.
Officials of the pioneering commercial volleyball league for ladies in the country believed the Lady Eagles and the rest of the participating teams are all capable of ruling the tournament that formally comes off the wraps this Sunday at The San Juan Arena.
“It’s anybody’s game. Actually hindi masasabing may favorite ngayon,” said Moying Martelino, chairman of the organizing Sports Vision, who graced Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate, along with Shakey’s EVP and COO Vic Gregorio.
The current format of allowing each team to tap at least two guest players including one foreigner, levels the playing field in the tournament which has National University as the defending champion.
“Foreign and guest players mean a lot to the teams,” added Martelino, who was also joined in the session presented by Accel, Shakey’s, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation by Sports Vision president Ricky Palou and commissioner Tony Boy Liao.
So far, Adamson is the only team parading a foreign guest player in Pacharee Sangmuang of Thailand, making the Lady Falcons a strong contender for the championship.
Adamson is currently bracketed in Group A with Arellano, College of St. Benilde, Southwestern University, newcomer St. Louis University, and Ateneo, which is fresh from its stirring victory over old rival De La Salle in the UAAP women’s volleyball finals over the weekend.
Group B, meanwhile, is composed of many-time champion University of Santo Tomas, San Sebastian, Davao Lady Agilas, Far Eastern University, National University, and University of Perpetual Help.
Parading the same roster that accomplished the improbable during the recent UAAP Finals including famed coach Tai Bundit, the Lady Eagles test the mettle of the Lady Falcons in the 2 p.m. first game of a doubleheader during the opener.
The defending champion Lady Bulldogs then take on reigning NCAA champion University of Perpetual Help in the main game set at 4 p.m.
The new tagline `Shakey’s V-League: Where it all started’ will also be adopted starting this season, according to Martelino, in reference to its pioneering effort to set off a local volleyball tournament exclusively for ladies back in 2004.
Gregorio said Shakey’s is more than happy to be a major part of the endeavor that was originally the vision of the late PBA commissioner Jun Bernardino, who spearheaded Sports Vision together with Martelino, Palou, and Liao.
“We’re happy that after all these years, we’ve seen the success and growth of women’s volleyball here,” said the Shakey’s executive.