REVAMPED Cocolife makes its 2018 Super Liga Grand Prix debut against Cignal on Tuesday in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Bacoor Sports Center in Cavite.
After making it to the semifinals for the first time in the last conference, the Asset Managers had a major upgrade, signing Serbian coach Moro Branislav to replace Kungfu Reyes.
Reyes, a champion coach with Philippine Army, now serves as Branislav’s chief deputy as he focuses on his duties with University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP.
Cocolife also signed former national team member Honey Royse Tubino, Danika Gendrauli, Shawna-Lei Santos and Denice Tan, while bringing back the core of veterans Nerissa Bautista, Jane Gonzales, Tina Balse and Denden Lazaro.
The Asset Managers also brought back American Taylor Milton and recruited Serbian Sara Klisura, the hard-hitting open spiker who erupted for a record of 41 points with Foton last year.
The retooled Cocolife squad faces Cignal at 7 p.m. after the Sta. Lucia- Generika match at 4:15 p.m.
Branislav says getting to the top won’t be easy.
“All teams have also upgraded their respective rosters. So, it’s going to be very tough for us,” said the 58-year old coach, who steered the Tornadoes to the Grand Prix crown two years ago.
“We just have to prepare hard and be ready. This Grand Prix will never be easy. This is going to be a war.”
Despite losing head coach George Pascua and stars like Tubino, Paneng Mercado and Chie Saet to other teams while Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano suffered knee injuries, the HD Spikers remain a solid force.
Team manager Edgar Barroga is now head coach and he is pinning his hopes on high-flying American import Jeane Horton and Sonja Milanovic of Bosnia, veterans Rachel Anne Daquis, Jheck Dionela and Cherry Vivas.
“We may have lost some key players, but we were still able to fill in some key positions,” said Barroga, adding that Janine Navarro, Rialen Sante and Shirley Salamagos will all play a crucial role in their campaign.
“With the presence of our seasoned locals and two imports, we are confident that we can still contend with the heavyweights of the Grand Prix.”
Sta. Lucia and Generika look to bounce back from opening losses.
The Lady Realtors suffered a four-set loss to powerhouse Petron, while the overhauled Lifesavers bowed to Foton, also in four.