MANILA, Philippines — Chery Tiggo Crossovers hope that their prized recruits led by Eya Laure have adjusted to the professional play as they look to bring back the Crossovers on top of the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference.
Chery Tiggo made big moves in the Invitational Conference after signing University of Santo Tomas star Eya Laure with middle blocker Imee Hernandez as well as the core players of National University, Cess Robles, Joyme Cagande, and Jennifer Nierva.
But their recruitment coup didn’t translate into a successful stint as the Crossovers missed the semifinal round of the midseason conference and placed seventh after winning only two of their five matches.
KungFu Reyes, the deputy of head coach Aaron Velez, said that they made the most of their three-month preparation to help their rookies mature ahead of their second PVL conference.
“When you’re a top player in the collegiate ranks then all of a sudden you come here and you’re a rookie again, then ambiance is different for you. There are a lot of tougher, older players in the PVL. The players they used to look up to, now they play against,” Reyes told reporters.
“Hopefully, they’ve already gained some experience here in the league. And hopefully, they’ve already adapted to coach Aaron’s system at Chery.”
Chery Tiggo is also hoping for a healthy stint as it battles 11 teams in a single round-robin elimination after Laure and Co. were well-rested from the break unlike in the Invitationals, where they only had a month to prepare and recover after the UAAP Season 85.
“We were unable to catch up in conditioning last conference because the UAAP ended late. We had to address a lot of things, especially their recovery and conditioning. This time, we had a longer preparation in terms of physical conditioning,” Reyes said in Filipino. “Hopefully, we will be healthy all the way from start to finish so we can put up a good fight.
After Foton pulled out of the PVL, Shaya Adorador and Jasmine Nabor are reuniting with Chery Tiggo mainstays Mylene Paat, Pauline Gaston, Alina Bicar, EJ Laure, and Buding Duremdes to guide their rookies.
“Our group became more solid because Shaya and Jasmine had a chance to explore themselves as a leader [when they played for Foton]. We got a deeper bench now with a lot of role players,” the deputy coach said. “Definitely, they will guide and push our young players Cess, Joyme, and Jen. It’s a huge advantage for us to have our core players again.”
Chery Tiggo, which last won a PVL title with Jaja Santiago in 2021, opens its season-ending campaign against Farm Fresh on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We really prepared to win. Winning is our intention because we want to live up to our motto: Chery on top,” Reyes said.