BANGKOK Glass and Hisamitsu Springs Rio checked into the Diamond Hotel Sunday, formally completing what is billed as the strongest cast ever to compete in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship presented by PLDT which fires off tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Thais and the Japanese landed at high noon from Bangkok and Osaka, respectively, ready to wage a war against other elite club teams seeing action in this world-class tourney organized by the Philippine Superliga and Eventcourt, with TV5, Petron, Asics, BMW and F2 Logistics as sponsors, Diamond Hotel as official residence and Turkish Airlines as official airlines.
Powered by Asian superstars Pleumjit Thinkaow, Thi Ngoc Hoa Nguyen, Wilavan Apinyapong, Pornpun Guedpard and American Ashley Frazier, the reigning Asian champions will come out in full force in its world debut, eager to make an impact following the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The grieving Thai side will compete in all-white kit throughout this prestigious battle that is also bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Rexona, Mall of Asia Arena, Foton and Price Waterhouse Cooper.
On the other hand, Hisamitsu Springs Rio will be marching with the nucleus of Olympians Miyu Nagaoka and Yuki Ishii as well as Risa Shinnabe and Risa Ishibashi.
The Thais and the Japanese will be stacked against a very competitive field headed by Rio Olympics Most Valuable Player Zhu Ting, Lonneke Sloetjes, Kim Hill and Naz Aydemir Aykol of VakifBank Istanbul; Tijana Boskovic, Thaisa Menezes and Titiana Kosheleva of Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul; and Foluke Akinradewo, Olesia Rykhliuk and the Mariana Costa of Volero Zurich, who quickly swept locals fans off their feet with her charm, beauty and power.
Not to be outdone, South American powerhouse Rexona-Sesc Rio will parade Anne Bujis, Carol, Gabi and Juicely while European champion Pomi Casalmaggiore will be powered by Rio Olympics bronze medalist Carli Lloyd, Jovana Stevanovic and Valentina Tirrozi.
In all, the spectacle will feature the best and brightest volleyball players, coaches, technical officials and special guests from 25 countries, including those coming from Great Britain, Greece, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Tunisia and Cuba.
“The level of competition and star power of this event could match -- or even surpass -- that of the Olympic Games,” said local organizing committee chairman Philip Ella Juico during the top level meeting led by honorary president Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, organizing committee president Shanrit Wongprasert and director general Ramon Suzara yesterday, also at the Diamond Hotel.
“All the world’s best players are here. We also have our national government giving its all-out support, the latest volleyball technology and innovations as well as the support from local and international fans and media.”
The home team will carry the colors of PSL-F2 Logistics Manila powered by skipper Rachel Anne Daquis, Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, Frances Molina, Jen Reyes and Jaja Santiago.
They will be backed by foreign reinforcements in Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Stalzer of the United States, Lynda Morales of Puerto Rico, Tichaya Boonlert of Thailand, Yuri Fukuda of Japan, Yevgeniya Nyukhalova of Ukraine and Ekaterina Krivets of Russia.
PSL-F2 Logistics Manila will kick off its campaign against Rexona-Sesc Rio tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.