NEWLY appointed Petron coach Emil Lontoc said he is up to the challenge of keeping the rebuilding Blaze Spikers' winning tradition in the coming Philippine Super Liga (PSL) Grand Prix.
With almost a month before the import-flavored conference kicks off in February, the seasoned mentor, who replaced Shaq delos Santos, is left with only four holdovers and is still in the process of recruiting more players.
“Hanggang ngayon binubuo ‘yung team, may mga kulang. Pero kapag nabuo ko na, doon na ako magpe-predict,” said Lontoc. “Kasi ngayon sobrang madaming nawala, apat lang halos ‘yung natira.”
Open spikers Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, who won the bronze in the 30th Southeast Asian Games beach volleyball tournament, opted skip the indoor competition while Mela Tunay and Chloe Cortez transferred to Motolite.
Denden Lazaro moved to Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) while other Petron players have yet to sign contracts, according to a source who refused to be named.
But Lontoc, who was at the helm when the Philippines won its last gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games, remained optimistic that he can still come up with a team good enough to contend for a championship.
Although Lontoc refused to name the players he’s looking to acquire, he assured that management is doing everything to sustain the winning tradition of Petron.
“So sabi ko nga ang mga ganyang skilled players madaling makapag-adjust ‘yan,” he said.
“Ako ‘yung coach na kapag materials maski bago, nagtitiwala ako na kaya kong mapa-angat yan."
Lontoc was tasked to steer the Blaze Spikers to a third straight PSL Grand Prix title by no less than San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, who handpicked him for the head-coaching job.
“Actually pinakiusapan ako na mag-coach sa kanila kasi kilala ko ‘yun si coach Al, kilala niya ang kalibre ko. Pinakiusapan ako,” he said.