Spikers’ Turf showcases best in men’s volleyball
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The high-flying, crisp-hitting men’s volley players will now have a league of their own when the Spikers’ Turf presented by PLDT Home Ultera is fired off April 5 with eight teams slugging it out for the inaugural crown at The Arena in San Juan City.

Sports Vision, which organizes the highly popular Shakey’s V-League, has actually put up a mini men’s tournament in last year’s Shakey’s V-League Third Conference, a compact four-team field ruled by Instituto Estetico Manila. But the Spikers’ Turf is expected to top all the other previously held men’s volley tournaments in scope and participation and the level of play with the top players from the collegiate and commercial leagues seeing action, including members of the national team vying in this year’s SEA Games in Singapore.

“When we held our very first men’s conference last year, we drew four teams and more wants to join,” said Sports Vision’s Moying Martelino in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Shakey’s Malate.

“So we decided to just form a men’s league of its own, which will be presented by PLDT Home Ultera,” he added.

IEM heads the big field, bringing in the core of its champion squad led by Jason Canlas, Karl Ian dela Calzada and Carlo Almario, although it sure will face an uphill battle from the rest of the cast, which all boast of equally-talented rosters, guaranteeing a fierce chase for the inaugural crown in the league backed by Mikasa as the official ball and PTV-4, the official television station.

The other teams are Cagayan Valley, Ultera, Champion Infinity, former Systema, Cignal, Fourbess, Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force.

This early, Cagayan Valley and Ultera have been installed as the early favorites with their rosters backstopped by the country’s current cream of the collegiate crop.

The Nes Pamilar-mentored Rising Suns are composed of the mainstays of Ateneo and National University teams, which disputed the 77th UAAP men’s crown won by the Eagles recently.

Among Cagayan’s leading players are Ateneo’s Rex Intal and Marck Espejo and NU’s Peter Torres.        – Joey Villar

Ultera, handled by Odjie Mamon, will be led by University of Santo Tomas’ Mark Gil Alfafara, College of St. Benilde’s Johnvic de Guzman and Howard Mojica, the reigning NCAA MVP who powered Emilio Aguinaldo College to its first NCAA crown.

Actor Richard Gomez, meanwhile, has rejoined Champion Infinity, where he will be joined by Chris Macasaet, Chris Antonio and Syl Honrade.

“We’re ready for the tournament and we see a tight, wide open title race,” said Champion Infinity manager Sammy Gaddi.

Philippine Army hopes to extend its domination in the Shakey’s V-League to the Spikers’ Turf behind Greg Dolor, Patrick Rojas, Antonio Torres, and Jaidal Abdulmajid while Cignal will be led by Reyson Fuentes, member of the UAAP champion National U; and Fourbees will be spearheaded by Perpetual Help’s Warren Catipay, Jack Kalingking, Neil Ytorzaita and Allan Jay Sala-an.

Jeff Malabanan, Clarence Esteban and Dante Alinsunurin and Jukran Hamdan will banner the Air Force squad in the tournament, which will have a single round robin elims with the top four teams advancing to the semifinal round, another single round-robin stage with the top two clashing for the crown in a best-of-three series.

Games are set Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays starting at 9 a.m. to be telecast on a delayed basis on the same night of each playdate over PTV-4.

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