By Cip D.C. Cabrera
The PLDT/Smart Home Fibr High-Speed Hitters. (Photo courtesy: YouTube)
MANILA — Pressed for time and with only two national team members left in the national women’s volleyball team, the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) has decided that the best performing local team in the ongoing Philippine Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference will get to play for the country in the upcoming Asian Women’s Volleyball (AVC) Cup.
Only two players from the National University (NU) Bulldogs remained on the national team after 10 members of the school’s team were sacked by the PNVF for refusing to play in the PVL Invitational Conference semifinals,
In reaction to the PNVF’s decision, PLDT Home Fibr has wasted no time in expressing interest with PLDT/Smart head of sports Jude Turcuato saying they are more than excited to represent the country in the AVC Cup that the Philippines will host from 21 to 29 August at the Philippine Institute of Sports Multi-Purpose (Philsports) Arena in Pasig City
In an interview, Turcuato enthused that campaigning in the prestigious Asian tourney will give their team the opportunity to develop their chemistry and prepare for the Reinforced Conference of the country’s premier volleyball league.
“(We have) a golden chance to don the national jersey (and) the more games we have against good competition, the better the team will be,” PLDT/Smart’s sports chief pointed out even as he noted that the High-Speed Hitters are fast emerging as the best local team in the ongoing PVL semis as they fashion a 2-1 win-loss card behind the unbeaten Creamline and guest team KingWhale Taipei.
“Playing in an elite tourney will also give (us) a chance to scout their possible reinforcement for the midseason conference because we haven’t signed up any (import) yet. It would have been nice if we already got (one) 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,” Turcuato, also director of the MVP Sports Foundation, added.
Volleyball aficionados said that if PLDT Home Fibr bags the honor of representing the country, it is already well-equipped to compete as the team’s coach George Pascua and players Dell Palomata, Mika Reyes, Kath Arado, and Rhea Dimaculangan are no longer stranger to the international stage.
Pascua is a former national men’s team star and mentored Petron when it donned the country’s colors in the 2015 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Ha Nam, Vietnam and Palomata was part of the squad that competed in the same tourney the previous year.
Meanwhile, Reyes is likewise a seasoned veteran in international competitions as she has served as skipper in the team that competed in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while Dimaculangan is also an experienced campaigner having been a part of the SEA Games team in 2015, 2017 and 2019 as well as the 18th Asian Games in 2018.
As an added boost. PVL president Ricky Palou also revealed that should PLDT bid to play for the country, they will be given an extra charge with Brazilian mentor Jorge Edson Souza de Brito serving as a consultant and national squad holdovers Trisha Mae Genesis and Jelai Gajero playing with the High-Speed Hitters.
“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 cited with optimism. (ai/mtvn)