All eyes will be fixed on ChocoMucho’s ‘Big Three’ of Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon when the newcomer Flying Titans make their debut in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Open Conference next month.
Bringing in the same intensity and passion they’re known for during their college stint with the reigning UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University, the trio will be the center of ChocoMucho’s charge starting August 11.
The team may be one of the three new teams in the 9-squad field in the season-ending conference but the Flying Titans are no pushovers and could give the more established clubs including sister-team Creamline a run for their money.
“Preparation-wise, kaka-start lang namin. July 1 kami nag-start ng training but the thing is, it's a [semi]pro team na, maraming nang gulang sa amin e, marami nang veterans,” said Madayag, who will test her mettle against other strong middle blockers in Kathy Bersola of BanKo, Cherry Nunag and Jeanette Panaga of PetroGazz and Risa Sato of the Cool Smashers.
The former Lady Eagles stars have a solid support crew in another former Lady Eagle in Kim Gequillana, University of Perpetual Help’s Cindy Imbo, setter Acy Masangkay, Carla Sandoval and Dianne Ticar.
Also beefing up the squad are the core of the defunct United Volleyball Club led by Shang Berte, Bang Pineda, Arianna Angustia, Gyra Barroga, Dancel Dusaran, Shannen Palec and Erika Alkuino.
“So siguro naman hindi ganoon kahirap [mag-adjust] kasi lahat marunong ng makipag-communicate, lahat may experience na sa other games like sa PSL (Philippine Superliga) and sa PVL and sa universities rin naman from UAAP,” added Madayag.
For De Leon, this will be her second club team after a short tour of duty for Foton in the PSL.
“I'm really excited to start a new chapter of my career still with my [Ateneo] seniors and my batchmates and alongside my other new teammates whom I'm really excited to play on the court,” said De Leon. [We] don’t know what to expect yet but I know we're going to give our best.”
The transition from playing in the UAAP to the semi-pro, according to Tolentino, is not as difficult for her because she will still be playing under the familiar system of head coach Oliver Almadro.
“I mean, these are all new girls with us and it's a new experience, but I mean, with Coach O, a lot of the stuff remains the same for us -- his system, his way of coaching, and his conditioning,” Tolentino explained. “It's not extremely hard for us [Ateneo players] but maybe for the other girls, it's a new environment. So, we're just looking to improve the next few weeks before PVL starts.”
With the materials the Flying Titans have, Tolentino is confident of at least a Final Four appearance in their first run in the PVL.
“I think this team has the potential to make the Final Four. With our goal as a new team, there's always expectations. I mean, with Coach O as the head coach and with his background, of course, we give him a lot of credit,” she said. “For me, though, right now, I want to focus on the Final Four.”
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