Hard-hitters Grethcel Soltones, Singh, Urdas make import-less Laoag a threat in V-League
Grethcel Soltones teams up with NU pair Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas in Laoag. Freddie Dionisio and Jerome Ascano

LAOAG beefed up its all-Filipino roster after tapping the services of San Sebastian star Grethcel Soltones and National University pair Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas for the Shakey's V-League Reinforced Conference set to start on October 1.

The Power Smashers lost top hitter Mylene Paat, who moved to Cignal in the Philippine Super Liga, but the arrival of Soltones, Singh and Urdas gave hope to head coach Nes Pamilar.

Soltones suited up for Bali Pure in the Open Conference, while Singh and Urdas were vital cogs in NU's successful defense of its title in the recently concluded Collegiate Conference.

“Naghanap ako ng kapalit at buti naman nakuha ko sina Jorelle Singh, si Aiko Urdas at si Grethcel Soltones,” said Pamilar. “Kung titingnan natin, mas lumakas at mas fighter itong team na nabuo ko ngayon.”

The hard-hitting trio along with their fellow recruit SSC libero Alyssa Eroa are expected to jell with holdovers led by veteran setter Chie Saet, attackers Jovelyn Prado and Jema Galanza, libero Eunice Galang, Wenneth Eulalio, Catherine Villegas. Joyce Sta. Rita, Charlene Gillego and Kat Magsumbol.

Pamilar sees a promising team this time despite having a young and import-less squad in the tournament.

“Ang majority kasi ng mga players ko ngayon ay mas kondisyon at karamihan sa mga ito naglalaro pa sa school nila,” he said. “Medyo, kumbaga, mas madali mo silang mapapagalaw dahil unang-una, praktisado sila and nagpe-prepare sila pare-pareho sa NCAA at sa UAAP. Mas agresibo at mas mga bata eh.”

“Ang kagandahan ngayon mas marami ang fighter na mga player ko at mas kondisyon,” he added. “Kahit sabihin natin na wala kaming import, ang nakikita ko ngayon ay mas agresibo eh.”

Pamilar cited the long process for an ITC (International Transfer Certificate) to secure foreign players was the reason he decided not to get the services of imports.

He, however, is confident that even without reinforcements, the locals can compensate the needed firepower for the team.

“This week lang kami nag-start na mabuo kaya kapos din sa panahon ng preparation. Sabi ko kung kukuha pa kami ng import, masyadong matagal ang processing ng ITC, 'yung ipapaalam mo pa sa association nila sa bansa nila. Medyo wala ng time para mag-jell ang team,” explained Pamilar.

“Hindi kasi kagaya ng ibang team na matagal na silang decided na kumuha ng imports kaya maaga pa lang may import na silang nakuha. Ang kinuha ko namang position kung titingnan natin mga open spikers eh so mas madaling i-jell sa team. ‘Yung mga middle spikers namin na-maintain ko naman,” he added. 


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