PSL Prix: Rivals out to dethrone Petron

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    NEW imports, new coaches, new schedule, and a lot of new features.

    Fans can expect as much when the 2020 edition of the Philippine Super Liga Grand Prix unfolds on Feb. 29 at The Arena in San Juan with eight squads competing.

    Among those making their debut in the league is former national mentor Emil Lontoc, who will call the shots for the defending champion Petron Blaze Spikers.

    “While I am handling a virtually new team, we promise to be competitive and hopefully make it back to the finals. I always think positive,” said Lontoc, who celebrated his 70th birthday last Feb. 15, of the new challenge he faces.

    Lontoc was the chief assistant when the Philippines won the title in the Singapore Southeast Asian Games in 1993.

    Lontoc was grateful for comebacking import and skipper Khat Bell for “being a great motivator and helped me a lot in keeping team morale high” during the league’s press launch yesterday at the Eurotel Hotel in Makati.

    A former University of Texas varsity mainstay, Bell stressed that “we’re not looking at our past accomplishments but look forward to defending our title.”

    Among the squads expected to stand in Petron’s way is the Cherry Tiggo Crossovers, formerly known as the Foton Tornadoes, which will parade the twin tower siblings of Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago Manabat.

    “Our team is hungry and we really want to make a big impression in this tournament,” said Chery coach Aaron Velez.

    Another perennial favorite in the tournament backed by Mikasa, the official ball, Stevia and Mueller kinesiology tape is F2 Logistics, bannered by returning and popular import Lindsay Stalzer.

    ‘We’re looking forward to having a super exciting and super competitive event,” Stalzer said, “and we certainly hope our fans will continue to support us.”

    The other squads competing in the event sanctioned by the Larong Volleyball Pilipinas, Inc. are Cignal, Generika Ayala,Marinerang Pilipina, PLDT and Sta. Lucia.

    PSL president Ian Laurel said that unlike the previous conferences “we will limit the teams to one import so more local players can see action.”

    Games will be played every Tuesday and Saturday and will be televised live on ESPN Sports 5. The league will have app Viber as its new partner on social media.

    The teams will play a double-round robin elimination to determine the rankings for the knockout quarterfinals.

    The No. 1 team will face the No. 8 team while the second seed squad will be up against the seventh team, the No. 3 team will tangle with the No. 6 and the No. 4 team will face No. 5.