TOP local male and female spikers show their wares in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino conference starting on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Systema, now featuring former PLDT player Richard Gomez, battles Cignal in the first match at 2 p.m.
Cagayan Valley, which kept its core intact after placing fourth in the import-laced PSL Grand Prix, tests newcomer Air Asia in the women’s opener at 4 o’clock.
Team captain Angge Tabaquero, Aiza Maizo, Joy Benito, fourth overall pick Janine Marciano and the rest of the Rising Stars hope to get off to a fine start, although coach Nes Pamilar says they are still at 70 to 80 percent and have modest expectations for the opener since they know very little about their rivals.
“I-aapply lang namin ang ine-ensayo namin, wala pa kami nakikita sa kalaban namin," said Cagayan coach Nes Pamilar.
The Rising Suns face a Flying Spikers squad built around the La Salle Lady Spikers core.
Coached by long-time La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus, Air Asia picked former Lady Spikers skipper Aby Marano second overall in the rookie draft, while the teams also has former DLSU players Cha Cruz, Stephanie Mercado Wens Tiu, Maureen Penetrante and University of St. La Salle ace blocker Micmic Laborte.
“Big challenge para sa amin ito, wala kaming idea sa team Cagayan, siguro ’yung adjustments during games na lang,” De Jesus.
Runner-up last year, Systema hopes to go all the way to the top and hope to get big games from Rocky Honrade, Chris Macasaet, Patrick Rojas, Angelo Espiritu and AJ Pareja.
Gomez won a title with PLDT last year and is also expected to play a big role now with Systema.
"The only way is up," said Systema coach Sammy Gaddi. "Since we placed second last time, gusto namin ma-achieve ang championship."
Philippine Army is seeking its third title in three conferences, while also vying for honors are Cignal, Petron, RC Cola and PLDT.
Instituto Estitica Manila, Via Mare and PLDT complete the cast in the men's divison.
All games will be played at the Astrodome except for two provincial playdates in Cebu and Laguna.