RETURNING powerhouse RC Cola Army was quick to play down the favorite's tag ahead of the start of the Philippine Super Super Liga Invitational Conference.
After a three-conference hiatus, the Lady Troopers are coming back with a solid core led by Tina Salak, Jean Balse, Michelle Carolino, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis, who played for Petron for two conferences.
Opposing coaches were one is saying former three-time champion Army is the team to beat in the tournament, but Army assistant coach Rico de Guzman insisted it's a level playing field.
"Hindi naman (kami ang team to beat), pantay-pantay naman ang teams at hindi ko pa sila nakikita maglaro," he said during the press conference held at St. Giles Hotel on Wednesday.
The Lady Troopers will face a baptism of fire against PSL Grand Prix champion Foton at 4:00 p.m. in the opening match on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Foton beefed up its roster with former University of Santo Tomas stars Angge Tabaquero, Maika Ortiz and Rhea Dimaculangan after the departure of National U standouts Jaja Santiago, Uvy Perez and Bia General.
PSL president Tats Suzara assured that the league has been true to its objective to be fair in balancing the teams.
"It has been the objective of the PSL, each team should have a balanced lineup," said Suzara. "You can't have a team that is so strong. PSL is always balanced and that makes the league a success."
Meanwhile, newcomers F2 Logistics and New San Jose Builders will square off in the 6 p.m. game.
Cha Cruz, Pau Soriano and former Petron star Aby Maraño will banner the Cargo Movers, while the core of Perpetual Help System Dalta make up the Victorias.
After losing its three queens - Daquis, Maraño and Dindin Santiago-Manabat , Petron has boosted its roster with Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Bang Pineda and CJ Rosario.