Smart-Maynilad, FEU clash in Shakey’s V-League opener


2 p.m.—Meralco vs PNP
4 p.m.—Smart vs FEU

SHORT on preparation, Smart-Maynilad coach Roger Gorayeb has modest expectations for his squad early in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference that opens today.

Having trained together only four times, the Smart spikers – one of the pre-tournament picks – see a tough outing when they kick off their campaign against Far Eastern U at 4 p.m. at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

“We only had four training sessions and we have yet to jell,” said Gorayeb, who boasts of a star-studded roster made up of current and former players from Ateneo.

With Smart still working on its cohesion, two of the league’s top setters, Jem Ferrer and Rubie de Leon, will take turns in the playmaking chores, giving Gorayeb some relief having handled the two players in previous tournaments.

Smart will rely on a tight yet experienced rotation led by Suzanne Roces, Alyssa Valdez, Charo Soriano, Gretchel Soltones, Maru Banaticla and Nica Guliman as well as libero Melissa Gohing.

Meralco and Philippine National Police collide in the opening game at 2 p.m.

Ateneo star Fille Cainglet, former La Salle mainstays Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Ivy Remulla and Stephanie Mercado, Karla Bello, Zharmaine Velez, Maica Morada and defensive specialist Jen Reyes are hoping to fuel the Meralco Power Spikers’ campaign.

“We were formed just two weeks ago and practiced as a team only last week,” said Meralco mentor Oliver Almadro. “We’re still working on our system.”

With the league adapting a tight format that will see the top six moving on to the quarterfinals, explosive action is expected.

Also favored are 2011 champion Philippine Army and Cagayan Valley, which lost to Sandugo in the finals last year. Cedelf P. Tupas

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