Asian stint thrills High Speed Hitters

PLDT Home Fibr is more than excited to represent the country in the AVC Cup that the country will host from 21 to 29 August at the Philsports Arena.

Smart head of sports Jude Turcuato yesterday told Daily Tribune that campaigning in the prestigious Asian tourney will give them the opportunity to develop their chemistry and prepare for the Reinforced Conference of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

PLDT has a golden chance to don the national jersey after the Philippine National Volleyball Federation sacked 10 players of National University for refusing to play in the semifinals of the PVL Invitational Conference.

With only two national team members left, the federation announced that the best performing local club in the PVL wars will get to represent the country in the AVC Cup.

The High Speed Hitters wasted no time in expressing their interest.

Although their title hopes were dashed by a heart-stopping 25-23, 20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 13-15 setback to KingWhale Taipei in their PVL semis battle, Turcuato remains optimistic, knowing that a stint in the Asian level will be a major boost to their campaign.

“The more games we have against good competition, the better the team will be,” Turcuato said, adding that playing in an elite tourney will also give them a chance to scout their possible reinforcement for the season-ending conference.

“We hope we get to scout for imports there because we haven’t signed up anyone yet. It would have been nice if we already got an import to play for us in the AVC. Still, playing in the AVC will help us speed up the process of searching if given the chance.”

Should PLDT bag the honor of representing the country, it is tipped to hit the ground running as coach George Pascua, Dell Palomata, Mika Reyes, Kath Arado and Rhea Dimaculangan are no longer strangers to the international arena.

Pascua, a former national men’s team star, mentored Petron in the 2015 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Vietnam while Palomata was part of the squad that competed in the same tourney last year.

Reyes, of course, is a grizzled international veteran who served as skipper in the team that competed in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 while Dimaculangan is also a seasoned campaigner who have been part of the SEA Games teams in 2015, 2017 and 2019 as well as 18th Asian Games in 2018.

PVL president Ricky Palou said should PLDT push through, it will be given an extra boost with Brazilian mentor Jorge Edson Souza de Brito of Brazil joining as consultant as well as the holdovers from the national squad in Trisha Mae Genesis and Jelai Gajero.

“PLDT confirmed that they are willing. So, we’re waiting for a response from Rebisco (Creamline) and Cignal. I don’t see why they will not want to participate. It’s an honor for the players to represent the country. We’ll see what happens,” Palou said.

“Coach Jorge will join the team who will participate in the AVC as a consultant. The coaching staff of the team will remain intact.”

Turcuato said he doesn’t see any problem in their looming international campaign.

“We practice every day. Gameday is also considered as practice day and since not everyone gets to play, there are around six to eight players who get to see action,” Turcuato said.

“I think the benefit of competing against international competition and getting the experience of live games is a better risk for us to get better that just practicing every day.”

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