A PAIR of spikers from the South is tipped to take the Big City by storm when it competes in the PLDT Home Ultera-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2015 powered by Smart Live More starting on Saturday at the SM By the Bay in SM Mall of Asia.
Donning the colors of SM By the Bay A, former University of the Visayas star Jade Becaldo teams up with Hachaliah Gilbuena of Tagum City in a bid to make a name in the men's division of this weekly competition that will be aired live over TV5 with Accel as official outfitter, Sands By the Bay as venue partner and Maynilad as official water provider.
PSL president Ramon "Tats" Suzara said Becaldo is one of the spikers to watch after barging into the Top 10 of the highly-competitive 16th Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Beach Tour Samila Open in Songkhla, Thailand last April with Edward Ybanez of University of Southern Philippines as partner.
Aside from Becaldo and Gilbuena, also expected to steal the thunder from their Manila-based rivals are Fiola Mae Ceballos of Central Philippines University in Iloilo City, Cindy Benitez of University of Cordilleras and Florence Madulid of University of Baguio.
After serving as partner of national team skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga in numerous beach volleyball competitions, Ceballos is expected to pull a surprise after ruling the first-ever Queen of the Sands beach volleyball tournament over a talented field that includes Bea Tan of Foton Hurricanes, Alexa Micek of Foton Sprint 4T, Gretchen Ho of Petron XCS and veteran Maica Morada.
Ceballos will be paired with Patty Orendain for Foton Tornadoes.
Benitez and Mandulid, for their part, will banner Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) after seeing action in the 2015 Baguio Beach Volley Championship.
"The Philippines has a lot of good players, not only here in Manila, but all over the country," said Suzara, a ranking member of the AVC and the International Volleyball Federation. "This is an attempt to widen our scope and discover fresh talent who can represent our country in international beach volleyball tournaments in the future."
Not to be outdone, however, are the pairs of Cha Cruz and Micmic Laborte of Cignal A; Ho and Charo Soriano of Petron XCS; Micek and Cayetano of Petron XCS; Wensh Tiu and April Ross Hingpit of Cignal B; Tan and Pau Soriano of Foton Hurricanes; Aileen Abuel and Rossan Fajardo of Philips Gold; Danica Gendrauli and Norie Jane Diaz of Gilligan's; Len Cortel and Samantha Dawson of Sonak; Evangeline Pastor and Kim Ygay of Quantum Plus A; and Tripoli Aurora and Rochet Dela Paz of Quantum Plus B.
"What we have is a very deep and talented field," Suzara added. "It's going to be a slam-bang affair with only the best team in terms of skills, power and technique will emerge victorious."
In the men's side, brothers Tim and Daniel Young of SM By the Bay B are expected to make their presence felt as well as Fernando Alboro and Ronel Del Mundo for University of Perpetual Help Molino A; Emanuel Gamat and Paolo Alona of University of Perpetual Help Molino B; Sandy Montero and Edmar Bonono of Cignal A; Jay Dela Cruz and Emmanuel Luces of Cignal B; Michael Ian Conde and Karl Dela Calzada of Instituto Estetico Manila (IEM); and Angelo Espiritu and Nestor Molate of Champion Infinity A.