AFTER nearly a decade of absence, Sta. Lucia Land, Inc. will make a grand return to sports when it becomes the youngest team in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference starting on March 4 at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The Realtors, who put up multi-titled teams in the PBL and in the PBA from 1993 to 2010, will be fielding a squad composed of superstars from the NCAA to be coached by the youthful Michael Carino.
Sta. Lucia, however, may carry a different moniker in the PSL.
PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara said he expects the squad owned by SLR chief Exie Robles to be competitive right in its debut and give PSL mainstays Petron, Cignal, Foton, Generika and neophyte Cocolife a run for their money.
“Sta. Lucia is known for its fighting spirit and winning tradition when it was still involved in professional basketball,” said Suzara. “The team has already ben assembled and we’re expecting it to hit the ground running.”
Carino, who spearheaded College of Saint Benilde to an upset of San Sebastian in the NCAA finals last year, said he has a young team capable of pulling off surprises.
Former Lady Blazers Janine Navarro and Djanel Cheng will banner the squad that also includes Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Melanie Torres, Lourdes Clemente, Nacael Gual, Cindy Imbo, Dana Henson, Jonna Sabete, Rica Enclona, Rialen Sante and Shaira Umandal.
Seasoned coach Sammy Acaylar was earlier considered to become its mentor, but he begged off after his appointment as head coach of the men’s national team and athletic director of University of Perpetual Help.
“What we have is a young, but fighting, team,” said Carino, who was part of the men’s team that campaigned in the AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in Taipei in 2015. “We have been preparing for the past three weeks and we’re confident that we will make the company proud.”