Blaze Spikers beef up squad with Maraño, Daquis, Micek as they go for back-to-back titles in Super Liga
North Carolina State's Alexa Micek was picked seventh by Petron in the rookie draft. Jerome Ascano

POWERHOUSE Petron remains as the team to beat, with its already solid squad beefed up by a trio of top stars for the Philippine Super Liga All Filipino Conference starting on March 21 at the MOA Arena.

The Blaze Spikers, who won the Grand Prix, have retained Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Mina Aganon, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano and Maica Morada and got a further boost with the acquisition of former La Salle skipper Aby Maraño, Philippine Army mainstay Rachel Anne Daquis and Filipino-American Alexa Micek.

"Sabi nila (ibang coaches) team-to-beat daw kami naniniwala naman ako doon," said Petron coach George Pascua.

"Malalim kasi ang bench namin, tapos may nadagdag pa kaya mas lumakas kami this conference."

"Lahat naman 'yan competitive, lahat naman malakas," he said. "Hindi pa natin nakikita ang situation sa game."

Cignal and Foton face off in the conference opener at 2:30 p.m. followed by the match between Petron and Philips.

Shopinas, which placed second while playing as Generika, retained the core of the Lifesavers lineup led by former La Salle stars Cha Cruz and Paneng Mercado.

The Lady Clickers got Rizza Mandapat from National University as fourth overall pick and Djanel Cheng of College of St. Benilde.

Cignal will have returning player Michelle Segudine of Adamson, while Perpetual Help standouts Honey Tubino, Norie Diaz and Arriane Argarin are now set to play for Mane ’N Tail.

Rica Jane Enclona and Mary Ticar are also suiting up for the HD Spikers along with Mela Tunay of University of Santo Tomas.

Second to last in the All Filipino Conference, Foton is eyeing a much better finish after picking Angeli Araneta of University of the Philippines second overall in the rookie draft.  Araneta will also be playing with Pam Lastimosa of UST, Ella de Jesus of and Nicole Tiamzon of UP.

Libero Denden Lazaro, picked eighth overall by Foton, has pulled out of the PSL after being drafted eighth overall.

[See Denden Lazaro pulls out of Super Liga days after being drafted by Foton. Find out why]

Expansion team Philips Gold has top pick Iris Tonelada, Michele Gumabao, Myla Pablo and seventh overall pick Desiree Dadang of National U.

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