Photo courtesy of Shakeys Super League
It seems that the long hiatus from active competition prior to S84 affected our teams’ ability to be competitive enough to vie successfully for the UAAP titles. At least for the Green Archers basketball team (3rd in S84) and the Lady Spikers (runner-up in S84).
Both teams used the offseason as an opportunity to rebuild and retool, and also to recuperate from lingering injuries they suffered during the season.
The Green Archers participated in two preseason tournaments – the FilOil Preseason Tournament and the PBA D-League. They placed well in both, making the semis in the FilOil and winning the D-League.
The Lady Spikers embark on their own preseason tournament with their participation in the newly-revived Shakeys Super League, which features all 10 NCAA teams together with all 8 UAAP schools for the first time.
The Lady Spikers are in Pool D together with NCAA champs and sister school CSB, Letran, and FEU. Before the start, it was expected that the Lady Spikers might find tough sailing against the Lady Blazers, but should hurdle Letran and FEU, which placed around the bottom in S84. However, FEU pulled off a huge upset last weekend when they upended CSB in 5 sets.
The Lady Spikers intend to do their best in the tournament, but may not be with all their weapons. Some players are still recovering from injuries sustained in S84 which just ended a couple of months ago, and some are nursing injuries suffered in practice. Coach Ramil will also not be mentoring the team from the sidelines, and in his place is Assistant Coach Noel Orcullo.
The Archers are essentially carrying over their S84 lineup, save for opposite spiker Erika Santos who turned pro, and Jingco, who decided to sit out the season. Both were subs last season.
Interesting additions are Angel Canino, a DLSZ juniors standout who played for the national juniors team, Jade Fuentes, who was a backup last season, and Amie Provido. All three are tall, standing 5’11 and 6’0, and will be players to watch out for in the future.
This is a very tall lineup, arguably the tallest collegiate team Coach Ramil has ever fielded over his coaching history, all handpicked after a stringent evaluation, recruitment process, and who made it through the tough training program Coach Ramil is known for. The players:
Thea Gagate (6’3), Leila Cruz (6’1), Jade Fuentes (6’0), Julyana Tolentino (5’11), Amie Provido (5’11), Angel Canino (5’11), Fifi Sharma (5’11), Jessa Ordiales (5’11), Alleiah Malaluan (5’11), Julia Coronel (5’9), Ynnah Hatulan (5’11), Julienne Levina (5’10), Gilliana Torres (5’10), Jolina dela Cruz (5’9), Baby June Soreno (5’8), Marionne Alba (5’7), Marite Espina (5’7), Justine Jazareno (5’5), and Princess Larroza (5’6).
The middle blocker position is very tall – Gagate, Sharma, Hatulan, Ordiales, all standing 5’11. The opposite and open spiker lineup is equally tall: Fuentes, Provido, Canino, Malaluan, Levina, Torres, dela Cruz, Soreno, and Espina – only dela Cruz, Soreno and Espina are below 5’10, but are terrific hitters who can jump.
Our setters are also not liabilities at the net: Alba is the smallest at 5’7, while Coronel is 5’9 and Tolentino is MB-sized at 5’11.
On defense, our biggest (smallest?) asset is Justine Jazareno, best digger last season; her experience as an attacker helps her get into the right position to receive opponents’ attacks.
With the easing of the COVID restrictions on athletic activities and gatherings, the Lady Spikers were able to practice more often, and are now getting exposure to their older sisters in the F2 team. That opportunity to practice with the pros is an invaluable tool in their development.
The team is still raw, but bursting with potential.
Against FEU, it will be a toss-up, because FEU showed excellent form in holding off CSB last weekend. With a new coach in Tina Salak, they seem to have rediscovered their game after last season’s turmoil in their lineup. Letran isn’t expected to provide strong resistance, although they could still pull off a surprise. It’s CSB, mentored by Jerry Yee, that is expected to match or beat the Lady Spikers.
Hopefully it’s the sister schools that make it out of the pool.