Foton eyes fourth win vs Soltones-less Iriga | Tempo

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By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan City)
2 p.m. – Foton vs Iriga City
4 p.m. – UST vs Cocolife
6 p.m. – F2 Logistics vs Sta. Lucia

Philippine Superliga (PSL) organizers came down hard on Iriga City star spiker Grethcel Soltones yesterday, leaving the Oragons without one of their potent scoring weapons for the rest of their campaign in the 2017 Chooks-to-Go Grand Prix.

Bali Pure’s Gretchel Soltones attacks against Air Force’s (from left) May Ann Pantino, Jocemer Tapic and Iari Yongco during the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan, July 16, 2017 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Soltones, 22, considered by many as one of the country’s top spikers, was slapped with a one-year suspension plus a R50,000 fine after she saw action in the All-Star Game of the Premier Volleyball League last Oct. 29, a direct violation of the league’s existing one-league policy according to PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.

Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor, however, filed an appeal and Suzara called for an emergency meeting among team owners today to tackle the issue.

Without the 5-foot-8 Soltones, Iriga City is in for a tougher grind in its 2 p.m. showdown with two-time defending champion Foton which is aiming for a fourth straight victory at The Arena in San Juan City.

“Although her absence will be a huge loss, we have to abide whatever their decision is and move on,” said Iriga City coach Parley Tupaz who will have to draw bigger numbers from Serbian import Tamara Kmezic and Japanese Saama Miyagawa to fill up the void left by Soltones, a three-time NCAA league MVP.

It’s easier said than done, however, since the Oragons are going up against a loaded Tornadoes side which has shown every inch of how formidable they really are so far in the season-ending tournament.

“We have to take advantage of this momentum by claiming as many wins as possible. The tournament will be tougher in the latter period, so we must play our best this early,” said Foton’s Serbian mentor Moro Branislav, who boasts blue-chips imports like Serbians Sara Klisura, Katarina Vukamanovic and Montenegrin Dragana Perunicnic.

Meanwhile, guest team University of Santo Tomas makes its much-anticipated debut against Cocolife at 4 p.m. while title contender F2 Logistics aims to pick up from where if left off against struggling Sta. Lucia Realty at 6 p.m.

Up against their collegiate mentor Kungfu Reyes who is calling the shots for the Asset Managers for the meantime, the Golden Tigresses are bringing in Japanese import Yukie Inamasu who will team up with a promising UST core built around Dimdim Pacres, Christine Francisco, Caitlyn Viray, Carla Sandoval and guest player Christine Agno.

“We may be young, but we will fight until the end,” said head coach John Paul Doloiras. “This is going to be a very good exposure for us going into the UAAP. We’re looking forward to learn a lot of things in this tournament.”

Also raring to sustain a strong start are the Cargo Movers, who are coming off an impressive four-set victory over powerhouse Petron over the weekend in Bacolod City, stopping the Blaze Spikers’ three-game win-run in the process.

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