Rebuilding UP, recovering La Salle out of Super League preseason tilt

Officials pf the 2023 Shakey’s Super League in a press conference on Thursday.

Officials of the 2023 Shakey’s Super League in a press conference on Thursday. –CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — La Salle and the University of the Philippines will not be part of the 2023 Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Preseason Championship, which starts Saturday at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

Athletic Events and Sports Management Inc. (ACES) president Dr. Ian Laurel said the Lady Spikers, who ruled the recent SSL National Invitationals led by Most Valuable Player Shevana Laput, as well as the Fighting Maroons, couldn’t make a commitment to join the tournament.

“Unfortunately, UP and De La Salle approached us and said they will pass for this conference. I don’t want to say what the reasons are but [it’s] truly valid for both of them. Sila na bahala magsabi,” said Laurel during the press launch on Thursday. “They promised to be back next year and we honor that and we wish them the best and we still want them to be able to recover as soon as possible to join our future tournaments.”

Sources told Inquirer Sports that most of the players from the UAAP champion La Salle are still recovering from injuries.

The Lady Spikers settled for runner-up in the inaugural SSL preseason tournament after losing to National University last year.

New UP  volleyball program director Oliver Almadro, meanwhile, said the Lady Maroons begged off due to a lack of preparation.

“We appreciate everybody looking forward to seeing the new-look UP WVT. However, we’re just going on three weeks being together, and we just started our training,” Almadro said. “At the same time, a lot of our players are also recovering [from injuries] and we’re prioritizing our health, especially you know how UP plays, we fight until the end. So for now, we’ve decided to continue focusing on laying the groundwork for the future of the UP Fight in volleyball.”

UAAP-NCAA teams clash

Bella Belen leads NU Lady Bulldogs to twice-to-beat edge in UAAP women's volleyball. –UAAP PHOTO

NU Lady Bulldogs’ star Bella Belen –UAAP PHOTO

Sixteen teams — six from the UAAP and all of the 10 NCAA schools — will vie for the title with National University eyeing its second preseason title and parading its returning coach Norman Miguel, who handles SSL Season 1 MVP Alyssa Solomon and former UAAP Rookie-MVP Bella Belen.

“The intention of this preseason is to really prepare the teams of the UAAP and NCAA to play in their respective tournaments which is the priority of their schools. So, for us, if there is a strong team out there, watch out because all these teams will be after your back,” said Laurel, who was with Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc., (SPAVI) president and CEO Vic Gregorio, general manager Jorge Concepcion, and Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Fritz Gaston. 

“This will bring out their level too. So, it’s indeed a responsibility but at the same time an honor to be trusted by both the two most prestigious leagues, the oldest leagues of the country, the NCAA and the UAAP.”

The core of NU recently represented the Philippine women’s volleyball team in the Southeast Asia (SEA) VLeague and AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Volleyball Championship will play in Pool A .

In the same pool are University of the East, bannered by rookie Casiey Dongallo–the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) MVP from California Academy–as well as NCAA teams San Sebastian College and Jose Rizal University.

Adamson, the finalist of the National Invitationals, headlines Pool B with Arellano, Lyceum, and San Beda, while University of Santo Tomas, the bronze medalist of the same tournament, is slated in Pool C with NCAA champion College of Saint Benilde, University of Perpetual Help and Letran, which is also handled by  Almadro as coach.

The rebuilding Ateneo is also competing with new Brazilian coach Sergio Veloso when it battles Far Eastern University, Mapua, and Emilio Aguinaldo College in Pool D.

The SSL will continue to implement an all-to-play system, giving maximum exposure to all players.

The top teams of each group will advance to the knockout quarterfinals.

The semifinals will also be in a knockout format, while the finals and the bronze medal match will be played in a best-of-three series in November.

Games start on Saturday at  Filoil EcoOil Centre with UST battling Perpetual Help at 1 p.m. after the opening ceremonies. Adamson takes on Lyceum at 3:30 p.m., while San Beda and Arellano cap the day at 6 p.m.

The latter part of the tournament including the finals will be held at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

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