Collegiate flavors make PVL 2nd Conference younger and more appetizing

Collegiate flavors make PVL 2nd Conference more exciting
Young players add more spice in the PVL Open Conference.

There’s a rich dose of UAAP and NCAA flavors tantalizing the senses in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

The National University Bulldogs, who came so close to unseating the high and mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles in last season’s UAAP finals, are wearing the colors of Mega Builders, cashing on every exposure they can get before launching another UAAP campaign in January next year that many think could finally hit pay dirt.

Five key players of College of St. Benilde’s NCAA champion squad are suiting up for the Sta. Elena Construction Wrecking Balls, sister team of the Mega Builders.

Coach Mario Mia has picked 11 of his players going to the next NCAA war to carry the banner of his PVL squad, newcomer and active sports patron Gamboa Coffee Mix.

Five core members of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers are beefing up Philippine Army, and four from the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and two from Emilio Aguinaldo College are with Café Lupe.


The Mega Builders

Coach Ariel dela Cruz is temporarily taking over as coach of the National University squad known as Mega Builders in the Open Conference of the Premier Volleyball league, another groundbreaking tournament organized by Sports Vision in cooperation with official league partner Asics and official game ball Mikasa.  Not in photo are PVL veterans Bryan Bagunas, Fauzi Ismail and Kim Malabunga. (Photo by Eileen Kathryn Araza)

All 14 players making up the debuting Mega Builders will be NU’s bets in the upcoming UAAP, according to Bulldogs coach Dante Alinsunurin. 

Save for Bryan Bagunas, Kim Malabunga and Ismail Fauzi who played for Air Force in the First Conference, the rest of the Mega Builders are first-timers in a commercial league.

Berfhashidin Daymil, another recruit from Tawi-Tawi like Ismail and Madz Gampong, is  the latest addition to the NU lineup.

On the eve of his first foray into commercial volleyball, setter Kim Dayadante said he had had a restful sleep.

“Pero pag gising ko kinaumagahan, doon ko naramdaman ang excitement na sasabak na rin pala ako so commercial volleyball.”

Though not new in the league, Ismail said he always feels fresh excitement at the start of any tournament he’s in. He looks forward, he added, to learning more new lessons from it.


The Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls

The College of St. Benilde Blazers playing for Sta. Elena Construction. From L-R: Francis Basilan, Isaah Arda, Jethro Orian, Ajian Dy, Mark Deximo, and Owen Bacani. (Photo by Azcharey Cabrera)

Coach Arnold Laniog, who gave College of St. Benilde its first NCAA men’s crown last season, is further toughening up five mainstays of his collegiate champion team by exposing them in the PVL All-Filipino Conference as key players as well of the Sta. Elena Construction Wrecking Balls.

He identified them as Owen Bacani, Ajian Dy, Francis Basilan, Jethro Orian and Isaah Arda. Mark Deximo, his setter in that title romp, is also joining Sta. Elena.

There’s much rejoicing when the Wrecking Balls acquired ace setter Nico Ramirez of Adamson University.

Ramirez gave a brilliant accounting of himself when he dished out 32 excellent sets that set up Sta. Elena for a straight-set victory over arch rival Instituto Estetico Manila in Sta. Elena’s opening game.


The Army Troopers

With the participation of five University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Philippine Army in the Second Open Conference, coach Rico de Guzman (standing, fifth from right) is optimistic the Army Troopers will either duplicate or surpass their Final Four finish in the PVL First Conference. (Photo by Eileen Kathryn Araza)

Hopes are high that the Philippine Army Troopers will again finish strongly in the Second Conference, with the second straight reappearances of two of the University of Santo Tomas’ young and talented players, First Conference Best Middle Blocker Jayvee Sumagaysay and Timothy Tajanlangit.

Three more from UST’s rich stable of athletes have joined Sumagaysay and Tajanlangit on the Army squad. They are Tyrone Carodan, Arnold Bautista, and Manuel Medina.

The Army old reliables include team captain Benjaylo Lab ide, Joshua Barrica, Jason Guy, Rico Romnick, Kenneth Bayking, Jaidal Abulmajid, Nikki Depamaylo, Michael Reyes and Antonio Torres.


The Café Lupe Sunrisers

Sunrisers coach Rod Palmero (standing, 2nd from left) is relying heavily on his four UP and two EAC players to make things happen for PVL repeater Café Lupe. (Photo by Eileen Kathryn Araza)

Killing two birds with one stone, UP and Emilio Aguinaldo coach Rod Palmero has picked six of his best collegiate players to reinforce Café Lupe, which he is mentoring for the first time.

Fighting Maroons Mack Millete, Joshua Castillo, Gian San Pascual and Jerahmeel Baldelovar and EAC Generals Paolo Lim and Earl Magadan have long adapted to coach Palmero’s system, thus eliminating the problem of jelling with one another which normally takes time.

They are also in the thick of training for their mother leagues, the Maroons for the UAAP where they made the Final Four last season and the Generals for the NCAA where they once reigned supreme during the time of Howard Mojica.

Completing Palmero’s PVL lineup are Jahir Ebrahim, Ralph Ocampo, Jay Chua, Regardo Francisco, Carlo Sebastian, Jasper Adorador, and Julius Sioson.


The Gamboa Coffee Mix Spikers

Coach Mario Mia (extreme left, standing) is calling the shots for Gamboa Coffee Mix, volleyball’s new kid on the block.  (Photo by Eileen Kathryn Araza)

A known benefactor in basketball, Gamboa Coffee Mix is spreading its support of Philippine sports to include volleyball. It is taking part in the PBA-Development League and sponsoring cage teams in the UAAP and NCAA.

This time it is fielding a youthful squad in the men’s division of the PVL Open Conference, aiming, says Grace Vergara, Erase Solution’s marketing head, at helping every effort to bring men’s volleyball on equal footing with women’s volleyball in terms of popularity and public patronage.

“We don’t mind losing,” says Vergara of the Gamboa Coffee Mix Spikers, a virtual Mapua team, “so long as our little effort will contribute to the promotion of men’s volleyball.”

Six-foot-five Raje Emmanuel Hizon and six-foot-four Anjo Pertierra are among the 11 Mapua players making up the Gamboa Coffee Mix Spikers.

The others are Samyr Navera, Alfred Pagulong, Mark Jason Egan, Sam Damian, Raven Evangelista, Rey-Arth Andaya, Lizendo Bondoc, Calvin Karl Vargas, and Reno Brylle Martinez.

Also in the lineup are Mapua alumni Philip Bagalay and Dion Canlas and ex-Blue Eagle Karlo Santos.

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