MANILA, Philippines – Collegiate volleyball star Abigail Maraño is ready to take on the challenge of her new role with the AirAsia Flying Spikers in the upcoming All-Filipino Conference of the Philippine Super Liga (PSL), which opens on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Flying Spikers will take on the Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns in the second game after the men’s division match between the Cignal HD Spikers and Systema Active Smashers. Organizing Sports Core will be offering the opening games – which will be aired by Solar Sports – free of admission to the public as their way of thanking the fans.
Maraño, chosen second by AirAsia after Petron’s top pick Aleona Denise Santiago during last month’s PSL inaugural rookie draft, said she will still be the same player that helped De La Salle University win three straight University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s title.
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The two-time UAAP most valuable player (MVP) said she isn’t feeling pressured being tagged by some as the Flying Spikers’ franchise player this coming conference.
“I think that (franchise player tag) fits (former La Salle team captain Cha Cruz) more. I’m not yet thinking of what the other people are saying, My focus right now is training and to help my team win this conference,” said the typically shy Maraño in an interview.
“I joined the team after the UAAP season ended. And we’re [Flying Spikers] playing a number of scrimmages with the current La Salle team, which in a way is a two-way learning process. They’re learning from us and at the same time we’re also learning from them.”
It will be like a La Salle reunion for Maraño as she will be joined by last season’s UAAP finals MVP Michelle Gumabao, Mika Reyes, Jeushl Wensh Tiu and Cruz in the Flying Spikers’ line-up that will be under La Salle mentor and eight-time champion coach Ramil de Jesus.
“Slowly, the team is playing like a one unit. We don’t see any problems with the system since we’re still under coach Ramil. Plus, most of the players are from La Salle so we know how each other plays,” said Marano, who will be making his professional league debut.
Maraño added that though defending two-time champion Generika-Philippine Army Lady Troopers — the invitational tournament and Grand Prix title holders last season— are still the favorites to win the crown, she sees a wider open race this time.
“All of the teams strengthened their line ups during the draft. Nagpalakas halos lahat, so mahirap po masabi kung sino ang may advantage at sino ang team to beat. Mahirap po mag-predict based on the line-up. Puwede masabi that a team is strong on paper based on their line up but you don’t know kung paano sila maglaro sa court at mag gel.”
Adamson’s May Macatuno and center attacker Arianna Angustia of Emilio Aguinaldo College are AirAsia’s other picks in the PSL draft.
The Cignal HD Spikers, Generika-Philippine Army Lady Troopers, PLDT Home TVolution Power Attackers, Petron Blaze Spikers, RC Cola-Air Force Raiders are the other women’s teams while Instituto Estetico Manila, PLDT-Air Force and Pocari Sweat are the men’s squads. – Rappler.com