Former Cuba national team member Gyselle Silva will team up with Lisbet Reyes to power Smart prepaid in the 2018 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix |FIVB
MANILA, Philippines — Smart Prepaid and Cignal vowed to pull the rug from under heavy contenders when they march in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix starting this Saturday at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
Despite being assembled at the last minute, Smart is still expected to spring a surprise in the tournament.
National team assistant coach Ronald Dulay will handle the team while a pair of former members of the Cuban national squad in Gyselle De La Caridad Silva and Lisbet Arredondo Reyes will be at the firing end.
Silva was part of the Cuban squad that campaigned in the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan in 2010 and the Pan American Games in Mexico in 2011.
She also has significant experience in elite club leagues in Turkey, Azerbaijan and China.
Reyes also saw action for Cuba in the World Championship before playing in club teams in Indonesia and Spain.
“We may not be as star-studded as other teams, but I can assure you that we will play hard from start to finish,” said Dulay, adding that veteran liberos Sha Torres and Tin Agno will man the backline while Jeanie Delos Reyes, Genie Sabas, Florence Madulid, Hezzy Acuna and Janet Serafica round up the roster.
Also tipped to make an impact in this battle that will formally kick off on February 24 at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex are the HD Spikers.
The HD Spikers, who are also under the umbrella of industrialist Manny Pangilinan, lost some key players in Honey Royse Tubino, Maica Morada, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet and the injured Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano, but they still remain a strong force to be reckoned with.
Veteran Rachel Anne Daquis will serve as the leader while Jheck Dionela, Cherry Vivas and May Macatuno as well as new recruits Janine Navarro, Rialen Sante and Shirley Salamagos will back her up in towing the HD Spikers back to the crown.
They will also have a new coach in Edgar Barroga with two-time champion Rico de Guzman serving as his top deputy.
“This is a fighting and very exciting team,” said Barroga, stressing that American leaper Jeane Horton and Bosnian spiker Sonja Milanovic will be at the helm of their attack.
“We may have lost some key players, but we were able to fill up all key positions. With the presence of our seasoned locals and two powerful imports, we’re confident that we can contend against the heavyweights of the Grand Prix.”