Valdez: Playing for BaliPure is super fun

Danny Santillan on Jun 27, 2016 02:17 PM
Valdez: Playing for BaliPure is super fun
Superstar Alyssa Valdez gushes with superlatives while describing her feelings playing for Balipure. (Photo by Nante Azures)

Superstar Alyssa Valdez gushes with superlatives while describing her feelings about playing for purified drinking water firm Balipure, the new kid on the block in the 13th season of the Shakey’s V-League.      

“It’s super fun,” says the acknowledged face of today’s Philippine volleyball. “I get to play with my former Ateneo teammates. I was already super excited upon learning I’d be reunited with them. Every playing day for us will be a lot of fun  and excitement.”       

Joining her on the team are eight more former Lady Blue Eagles consisting of playing coach Charo Soriano, Angeline Gervacio, Amy Ahomiro, Dennise Lazaro, Bea Tan, Mae Tajima, setter Gem Ferrer, and Karla Bello. NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones, ex-San Beda standout Janine Marciano, Alyssa Eroa and Ivanah Agbayani complete the squad.       

BaliPure team manager Virgilio ‘Gil’ Cortez, a former national basketball player himself, isn’t the least bothered by his team having fun on the floor. “Playing happy is the Lady Blue Eagles’ trademark. And they always deliver playing that way.”       

Valdez, a three-time UAAP and two-time V-League MVP, was away honoring previous commitments to Filipino communities in London and Italy, when the debuting Balipure lost its first game to Philippine Air Force and won the next two over the Jaja Santiago-led National University and Iriga City.

Returning for the fourth match against University of the Philippines, she carried Balipure to an edge-of-the seat five-set victory, scoring the last of her 26 points on a crosscourt hit to seal the contest for the Water Defenders.    

Soltones was also with Valdez on the trips to London and Italy when the Water Defenders extended the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers to four sets before folding up, 23-25, 25-14, 19-25, 16-25. The San Sebastian powerful hitter came back to the country ahead of Valdez to lead Balipure to a pulsating 18-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13 conquest of NU with 23 points, and combined with Marciano and Ahomiro for 45 points to turn back the challenge of the gritty Iriga Lady Oragons, 18-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-21.      

In her first ever match this year in the V-League, which she has credited much for what she is now, Valdez dug Balipure out of a 1-2 set deficit. She struggled in the early goings but there was no stopping her once she hit her stride. She was the runaway choice for the Player of the Game honors with her 26-point output, a recognition she was so used to in the last three seasons of the UAAP on her way to winning three consecutive UAAP MVP awards and carrying Ateneo to back-to-back UAAP titles.

Last year in the 12th season of the nation’s longest-running women’s volleyball tournament, she was named 1st best spiker and MVP both in the Open and Collegiate Conferences.      

Cortez acknowledges that getting Valdez to spearhead Balipure’s entry into any organized ball game event in the country is already a coup for his purified drinking water company. “I only know too well how big Alyssa is in women’s volleyball. She commands a wide following from all walks of life not only because she really is extraordinarily good in her sport. She makes her great athleticism all the more shine because of her amazing grace and humility on and off the court.”      

Balipure, says Cortez, is also a staunch supporter of the MVP national junior badminton program.       

Unknown to the younger generation, the six-foot-four Balipure team manager was once upon a time one of Manilabank’s star players in the MICAA, forerunner to the PBA. On the second year of the PBA where he played for Toyota, he was picked Rookie of the Year.

A product of the high school sports program of Holy Angel College in Angeles City, Pampanga, Cortez twice wore the national tricolors in 1975 for the eighth Asian Basketball Confederation Championship and the Pesta Sukan Sports Festival.       

After he retired from basketball, he has since still immersed himself in the sport in different capacities. He now sits as a member of the Board of Trustees and Director for Region III of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc.

Across the years, Cortez has repeatedly proven himself to be a tremendously successful basketball team manager as he managed  the Pampanga Dragons to the first national championship of the Metropolitan Basketball Association, the Pampanga Harbor Center to two titles in the United Regional Basketball League and the Philippine Basketball League, and the Pampanga Smart Buddies to the championship of the Liga Pilipina.      

Will Cortez, with his eminent history as a successful basketball team manager, be able to wield his magic with Balipure in women’s volleyball? That remains to be seen but with Valdez & Co. on his side, he is surely on the right track.

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