by Kristel Satumbaga
The 2017 Philippine Superliga Invitational unfolds on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan City with two newcomers ready to challenge the big guns.
Sta. Lucia Realty and Cocolife will slug it out with Cignal, Foton, Generika-Ayala, and Petron with the top three finishers advancing to the championship round.
There, they will be joined by Japanese guest team Kobe Shinwa University.
“These companies are major forces in our industry and we’re happy to see their support not only in the sport, but also in the league,” said PSL Chairman Philip Ella Juico.
Sta. Lucia, the newest member in the league, used to field a team in the PBA.
“We want to bring our winning tradition in this league,” said team owner Michael Robles.
Nicknamed as the Lady Realtors, Sta. Lucia will be spearheaded by former NCAA players Jannine Navarro, Djanel Chench, and Dana Henson. Macky Cariño will coach the squad.
The team will be tested early when they collide with powerhouse Petron in the opening day at 7 p.m. in the tournament where all members of the team must get exposure in every match.
“This allows equal opportunity to all players in showcasing their talents,” said PSL President Ramon “Tats” Suzara Suzara.
Under the new regulation, each team must field their top six players in the first set, and their second six players in the second frame. Coaches can field a combination of players in the third set.
Cocolife also boasts of a strong lineup in Ateneo players Denden Lazaro and Therese Gaston, and La Salle standouts Michele Gumabao and Wensh Tiu.
The Asset Managers will clash with Generika-Ayala at 5 p.m. before Foton and Cignal raise the curtain at 3 p.m.