After busy offseason, PVL opens with heightened anticipation
The Premier Volleyball League (PVL) offseason started out with a mad rush of player and coaching movements.
Then it became a forum for arguments over the need to impose a salary cap and the wisdom of leaving school despite having years of student-athlete eligibility to burn.
On Tuesday, it’s going to be all about the action.
The Invitational Conference kicks off at Filoil EcoOil Arena with powerhouse Creamline getting tested right away by a supercharged Chery Tiggo squad that hopes to provide a glimpse of the league’s future.
“The level of competition will definitely be higher this conference,” said Creamline star Alyssa Valdez.
“The team that will stay healthy all throughout the season will [have an advantage] this conference,” added the Ateneo product, who spent time idling on the sidelines because of a knee injury.
An offseason spent loading up on talent makes the conference too tough to call, Valdez implied.
“Every team is on equal footing, including in terms of support,” she said. Take Creamline’s opening-day assignment: The Cool Smashers face off against the Crossovers, who not only tabbed the most sought-after college star in University of Santo Tomas’ Eya Laure, but also hauled in a veritable cast of varsity standouts: Laure teammate Imee Hernandez and the National U trio of Princess Robles, Jennifer Nierva and Joyme Cagande.
“Overall, this is an opportunity to start developing a younger era of talents for the long term,” said Chery Tiggo head coach Aaron Velez.
But the wealth of talent comes with its own caveat, Velez admitted.
“…[I]t really entails a lot of responsibilities to match and manage the expectations of many,” he said.
It’s a challenge a lot of teams will face with the frenzied offseason that led to major acquisitions and surfaced questions about whether a salary cap will be beneficial for a league that seems to have rushed its growth this season.
Six teams will make their debut and show off some of these newly-minted pros. At 1:30 p.m., F2 Logistics, which expectedly signed La Salle graduates like Jolina dela Cruz, battles new squad Farm Fresh Foxies, which managed to snag top talents from Adamson late in the day. Cignal takes on Petro Gazz at 4 p.m. before the 6:30 duel between Creamline and Chery Tiggo.
In all, a record 13 teams will see action in the tournament—11 local squads and two foreign clubs.But much of the anticipation will come as a result of a breathless offseason, that spurred so much interest in the league to the point that there will be more options to catch action.
New streaming app
Apart from watching the games live and on television via One Sports and One Sports+, matches can also be viewed at the PVL website (PVL.ph) and through the usual streaming apps.
And then a new platform has been launched to also provide another way to follow the games: Pilipinas Live, a livestream app that hopes to revolutionize the way sports fans consume content on mobile devices, will provide an even more immersive experience for viewers.
“Pilipinas Live was created to reshape the landscape of sports viewing,” said Jane Jimenez Basas, the top chief of Cignal TV. “It offers the ultimate digital experience to Filipino sports enthusiasts wherever they may be.”
Among the apps offerings are extended pregame and postgame coverage aimed at providing more content for fans, who will be looking out for interviews of the new stars and players who switched teams in the offseason.
Creamline, which added firepower by signing beach volleyball standout Bernadeth Pons, will compete in Group A of the tournament, where it will battle Chery Tiggo, PLDT, Akari and newcomer Gerflor.
Petro Gazz leads Group B along with F2 Logistics, Choco Mucho, Cignal, Farm Fresh and Foton. INQ