PVL: Can Vice Gandaís magic touch turn menís volleyball into a blockbuster?
ABS-CBN Sports on May 23, 2018 12:19 PM
Meet the members of Vice Gandaís volleyball club known as the Vice Company Blockbusters. Rei Diaz Jr. (second from right, standing) is head coach; Berlin Paglinawan (No. 14) is team captain. Not in photo is the team owner himself who at the time was on a concert tour in Canada and the United States. (Photo by Eileen Araza)
A volleyball fan at heart and a low-key supporter of Far Eastern University’s stable of athletes, Vice Ganda needed no further convincing when approached to form his own team for the second edition of the Premier Volleyball League.
The ABS-CBN’s prized talent said yes no sooner than Berlin Paglinawan, a former PVL best opposite spiker, had made the request.
Paglinawan began his collegiate career playing for FEU, Vice Ganda’s alma mater, before transferring to National University. And that’s their connection.
This explains why the core of the Vice Company Blockbusters is made up of mainstays of the FEU Tamaraws who finished second in the UAAP last season.
Men’s volleyball fans until now are cheering the entry of Vice Ganda in the PVL, a two-year-old groundbreaking project of Sports Vision, the sports outfit that through its successful series of V Leagues has largely helped steer women’s volleyball to unprecedented popularity.
Everyone seems privy to how Vice Ganda has risen to the top of the local entertainment world, how he almost singlehandedly pushed the Kapamilya noontime show, It’s Showtime, to the pinnacle of the ratings game, and how his movies kept breaking box office records.
With his official involvement in volleyball as a club owner and player – he is listed as a player wearing jersey no. 1 -- can his golden touch pull in the crowds for men’s volleyball? That’s the question foremost in every volleyball aficionado’s mind.
Another connection between Vice Ganda and Paglinawan, his team captain, is their common passion for volleyball.
The TV host-actor-standup comedian would be seen time and again rushing from his afternoon television program to wherever the volleyball action may be.
After helping win the NU Bulldogs’ back-to-back championships and eventually graduating from the UAAP, Paglinawan never stops from playing -- for different clubs in the defunct Spikers’ Turf, another event organized by Sports Vision, and now the PVL.
For his present ballclub, Paglinawan said he shed 10 kilos in one month to keep fit and sharp. He insisted that he did it for volleyball, not for health reasons. If that’s not passion for volleyball, then what is?
To the FEU Tamaraws’ juggernaut, Paglinawan, who did the recruiting for Vice Co., has added the tested might of middle blocker Kim Malabunga of reigning UAAP titlist NU and high-flying Paolo Publico of Adamson U, a discovery from Vigan City.
The full lineup: Vice Ganda, Richard Solis, Cian Silang, Owen Suarez, Rikko Marmeto, Jude Garcia, JP Bugaoan, Redijohn Paler, Paolo Pablico, Jayson Ramos, Jack Kaligking, Berlin Paglinawan, Peter Quiel and Kim Malabunga.
Sammy Gaddi, team manager; Rei Diaz Jr., head coach; Manolo Refugia and Brendon Santos, assistant coaches; and EJ Ramos, therapist/trainer.