MJ Phillips only Filipino drafted into Korean V-League
MANILA, Philippines — MJ Phillips was the lone Filipino drafted as an Asian import in the Korean V-League on Friday.
The Gwangju AI Peppers selected the Petro Gazz middle blocker as the fifth pick in the first-ever 2023 KOVO Women’s Asian Quota.
Among the 23 aspirants from the continent, Phillips became one of the first seven Asian imports in the league.
Out of the six Filipino Aspirants, the reigning Premier Volleyball League 2nd Best Middle Blocker was the only one drafted as Creamline star Jia De Guzman, Chery Tiggo captain Mylene Paat, Akari spiker Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and F2 Logistics pair Majoy Baron and Iris Tolenado were not selected.
“Maraming salamat for picking me. Thank you,” said Phillips, who attended the virtual draft. “It’s been a dream since I was a little girl, so I’m very excited to start the season and yeah, I hope the Peppers’ fans are excited as well.”
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Gwangju joined the league in 2021, tallying a 3-28 record before the season was canceled. The club placed last in the 2022-23 tournament with a 5-31 card.
The Filipino-American middle blocker, who won the Reinforced Conference championship with the Angels last December, vows to provide the firepower once she joins the AI Peppers.
“You’ll see a lot of grit, of passion, and a lot of hard-hitting balls,” Phillips said.
“So far, it’s just the Philippines I’ve been (playing) in. It’s a pretty fast-paced type of play as well. I’m excited,” she added.
Thai star setter Pornpun Guedpard was selected first overall by the Hwaseong IBK Altos. Thailand national team outside hitter Wipawee Srithong was drafted second by the Suwon Hyundai Hillstate. Indonesian star Megawati Pertiwi was signed by Daejeon KGC as the third overall, while Thai middle blocker Thanacha Sooksod went to the defending champion Gimcheon Hi-pass.
Indonesian outside hitter Mediol Yoku was drafted sixth by the GS Caltex Seoul KIXX, while the Incheon Heungkuk Pink Spiders, the winningest club with four titles and a runner-up finish last season, selected Japanese wing spiker Reina Tokoku.
The V-League season will start in October — the same month as the season-ending Reinforced Conference in the PVL.
It is still uncertain if Phillips will play in the last two conferences of the 2023 season with Petro Gazz including the Invitationals in June.
In an interview last March, the star middle blocker said Petro Gazz has been supportive of her in trying out for a spot in South Korea.