All eyes will be on guest team Kobe Shinwa Women’s University as it clashes with Foton in its debut in the Belo Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitatio-nal Conference today at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Action starts at 7 p.m. with the Tornadoes expec-ted to get their hands full against the fancied Japa-nese squad, which vowed to wage an all-out war to cop the crown in this presti-gious women’s club tourney bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh and Mueller with TV5 as official broad-cast partner.
Prior to their encounter, Generika-Ayala will battle Sta. Lucia in the classi-fication phase for fourth to sixth places at 3 p.m. while heavyweights Petron and Cignal renew their rivalry in the 5 p.m. second match of this explosive triple-header that also has UCPB Gen as official insurance provider and Gold’s Gym as official fitness partner.
Billed as one of the best university teams in Japan, Kobe Shinwa is heavily favored as local coaches admitted that they have no idea of how it plays despite the fact that it competed against Ateneo de Manila in a friendly match in Osaka last January.
Even a veteran inter-national campaigner in Foton coach Moro Branis-lav stressed that he knows nothing about this Japanese side, except that it is fast, skilled, disciplined and plays Asian brand of volleyball to perfection.
“I have travelled a lot around Asia, but I am not familiar with this university team from Kobe,” said Branislav, the Serbian guru who called the shots for the North Korean national team last year.
“That makes this match more challenging. For my opinion, this Japanese team definitely plays Asian brand of volleyball, which means that they are fast, strong and very organized. We have to be ready.”
But the odds are defi-nitely stacked against the Tornadoes as their skipper, Dindin Manabat, will miss the rest of the conference after sustaining a Grade 2 MCL injury during their marathon match against the Lady Realtors.
“That’s a very big prob-lem for Foton,” Branislav said. “Dindin is our top spiker. We have to make some adjustments in order to compliment the numbers we will lose because of her absence.
Kobe Shinwa head coach Kiyokazu Yama-moto, for his part, said they are looking to give PSL teams a very good fight, similar to what happened last year when RC Cola-Army stretched the game to a deciding fifth set before winning the crown over the junior national team of Thailand.
He also thanked PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, also a ranking offi-cial of the Asian Volleyball Confederation who plays a crucial role in inviting foreign teams.
“In behalf of the university, I’d like to extend my gratitude to PSL presi-dent Ramon Suzara and everyone who prepare for this wonderful and suc-cessful event. We are so honored to be part of this tournament.”
Kobe Shinwa team captain Chichiro Fujiwara said they will bring their A-game against Foton, Cignal and Petron to boost their preparation in their collegiate league.
(FilOil Flying V Center)
3 pm – Generika-Ayala vs Sta. Lucia
5 pm –Petron vs Cignal HD
7 pm – Foton vs Kobe Shinwa