HEAVYWEIGHT RC Cola-Army kicks off its title quest when it battles a young Amy’s Kitchen side on Tuesday in the 2016 Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Winner of the PSL Invitational Cup crown, RC Cola-Army enters the tournament as one of the top favorites although coach Kungfu Reyes waved off the pre-tournament talk, saying they are behind other teams in terms of training and preparation.
“I don’t think we are the team to beat,” said Reyes, the UST coach who was also the chief deputy of Rico de Guzman when RC Cola-Army cornered its first three crowns in the country’s first club league.
“We just started training last May 15 while other teams were working together for quite some time. We’re still a work in progress and we haven’t reached our peak condition.”
Reyes admitted, though, that their experience will be the difference especially against a very young team in Amy’s Kitchen.
“Of course, our experience will be there. It’s our biggest asset,” he said.
Setter Tina Salak, 39, is still the leader of the squad that also has Jovelyn Gonzaga, Rachel Anne Daquis, Honey Royse Tubino and Nerissa Bautista.
On the other hand, Amy’s Kitchen will be banking on Lourdes Clemente, Coleen Bravo, Cindy Imbo and the core of NCAA powerhouse University of Perpetual Help.
Army and Amy’s Kitchen face off at 6 p.m., following the 4 p.m. match between Generika and Standard Insurance-Navy.
Bannered by the core of the Lady Troopers, Generika copped the 2014 All-Filipino Conference crown before posting a runner-up finish in the 2014 Grand Prix when the franchise tapped the La Salle Lady Spikers.
Generika did not participate in 2015 and returns this conference parading a roster that has veteran setter Rubie de Leon, Shaya Adorador of UE, Ria Meneses and Alex Cabanos of UST, Gen Casugod of FEU and Wensh Tiu of La Salle.
Former national team coach Francis Vicente will handle the Generika after coaching Philips Gold in the past conferences of the league backed by Asics, Grand Sports, Mikasa, Mueller, Senoh, TV5, Focus Athletics, Klay Cyscorpions, Islandrose.net, LGR and Petron.
“The pressure is there because Generika is a franchise that has a championship tradition,” Vicente said. “We have to do our best to live above expectation. We’re such a young team and we will work hard and keep on learning.”