CEBU CITY — Cignal HD has some sort of home advantage with a trio of locals, but Systema Active is unfazed as the two teams clash in the Philippine Super Liga All Filipino Conference on Saturday at the University of San Carlos gym.
The Cignal side has three Cebuanos in former University of Southern Philippines Foundation ace Emmanuel Marlon Luces, ex-University of the Visayas stalwart Mike Abria and former University of San Jose-Recoletos standout Ken Boyd Abunda.
But Systema skipper AJ Pareja believes all that so-called advantage could be canceled out by one person in their fold.
“Well, we realize that they may have the locals but we have Richard Gomez,” boldly said team skipper AJ Pareja. “Goma really brings the intensity not to mention the crowd support.”
Meanwhile, the women’s side will see the league-leading Petron Blaze Spikers taking on the AirAsia Flying Spikers who will be welcoming former La Salle star Michele Gumabao after a recent stint in a reality television program.
The UAAP Season 75 Finals MVP though, tempered down expectations for her upcoming debut this season.
“Na-realize ko na iba pala ang magpahinga ng two months sa magpahinga ka ng two months sa loob ng isang bahay. Mahirap magpa-condition ulit pero I’m doing everything I can to get back to that competitive level. So sa mga nag-eexpect, kontian nyo lang po” said the former La Salle star in jest.
Without Gumabao, the Flying Spikers managed three wins in five games, and Abi Marano says she is confident things will even be better with her former Lady Archers teammate in the squad.
“Malaking bagay ang pagbabalik ni Michele. Ibang klase talaga ang intensity niya, whether nasa court ba siya o wala. She’s a very intense leader who inspires and motivates all of us,” Marano said.
AirAsia though, is expected to have their hands full against the league-leading Petron side led by top draft pick Dindin Santiago and former Ateneo star Gretchen Ho.
Even with their 3-1 win-loss record, head coach Ramon Cruz admitted it has been tough with several players battling injuries.
“Medyo mahaba na rin ang pahinga namin at sana ma-gain na ulit namin ang consistency sa performance namin,” said Cruz, who team last played on June 15 and won against the PLDT Power Attackers in straight sets.
Santiago, the former skipper of the National University Bulldogs, is thrilled to be playing before the Cebuano crowd.
“Excited din talaga ako makapaglaro dito sa Cebu kasi first time ko rin dito,” she said.