All eyes on new tacticians

Photo courtesy of PVL

Games Tuesday:

(Philsports Arena)

4 p.m. — PLDT vs F2 Logistics

6:30 p.m. — Chery Tiggo vs Cignal

Debuting F2 Logistics coach Regine Diego gets a baptism of fire when she takes on another new mentor in Rald Ricafort of PLDT in an explosive battle of youthful tacticians on Tuesday in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Taking over the Cargo Movers coaching reins from Benson Bocboc, Diego’s mettle will be tested in the 4 p.m. encounter against Ricafort, who is looking to bring the same success he had when he steered Petro Gazz to the Reinforced Conference throne last year.

Meanwhile, Cherry Tiggo under returning head coach Aaron Velez faces off with Reinforced Conference runner-up Cignal at 6:30 p.m.

Diego, a multi-titled high school coach and former national girls’ team mentor, has at her disposal a veteran crew made even more dangerous with the addition of prolific scorer Myla Pablo during the offseason.

Back for redemption following a disappointing maiden season are seasoned Cargo Movers players Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, Aby Marano, Kim Fajardo, Dawn Macandili and Ivy Lacsina.

“I want them to play together, not just focusing on one person in the games. So I want the result (to be) a team result, not just individual,” Diego, the first and only woman coach in a field of nine professional clubs, said.

Familiarity with the F2 Logistics’ system under her former college mentor Ramil de Jesus will be Diego’s biggest advantage against Ricafort, who replaced George Pascua as PLDT coach.

Ricafort parted ways with the Angels after leading the club in conquering the import-laden conference.

Now, he handles a squad hoping for a better outing this season after missing the podium in all three conferences last year.

Mika Reyes banners the High Speed Hitters with Jules Samonte, Dell Palomata, Michelle Morente, Rhea Dimaculangan, Kath Arado and Jovy Prado backing her up.

Velez, who replaced Clarence Esteban, is out to make a repeat of the Crossovers’ 2021 Open Conference championship run under his watch.

But Chery Tiggo will have a new look this conference after releasing 6-foot-2 Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

Reinforced Conference Most Valuable Player Mylene Paat, Cza Carandang, EJ Laure, Buding Duremdes, Jasmine Nabor and new recruits Pauline Gaston and Seth Roriguez are all raring for another title shot.

“We can’t take any team for granted. As we saw from the previous conference, you won’t expect less because every team will give you a good fight,” Velez said.

“For our part, we have to sustain our energy and intensity from start to finish.”

A podium finisher in all three conferences last year including a silver in the Reinforced Conference, Cignal is considered one of the top contenders.

Veterans Rachel Anne Daquis, Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria, Riri Meneses, Gel Cayuna and Jheck Dionela are back to power the HD Spikers.

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