FOTON Philippines recently held a presscon to give an update on the recent developments with their team the FOTON Tornadoes.
FIVB International volleyball instructor Fabio Menta is set to train the FOTON Tornadoes, victor of the recently concluded Philippine Superliga Grand Prix 2015. By way of the championship, the team has earned the right to represent the country in the upcoming Asian Women’s Club Championship on September 3-11 at the Alonte Sports Arena, Biñan, Laguna. In the international match, the FOTON Tornadoes, featuring an augmented line-up will be known as FOTON Pilipinas.
“Having a globally renowned coach like Menta in our team will be just one of FOTON’s bullets. The plan is not merely to take a single step higher. We are exploring more of the possibilities to win more victories not only in the Philippines but internationally, as well.” says FOTON Philippines Executive Vice President Anna Maria Parado.
Menta brings with him a vast experience in volleyball with a coaching career beginning in 1996 as the head of the Sunburners volleyball team in Nassau as the Vice Champion of the Bahamas. A year later, the Italian coach became head coach of Nassau’s Texaco Star and Champion of the Bahamas.
After two years, the Cuba National Team (CUB) tapped Menta to collaborate for an exchange program where Menta worked together with the CUB – World and Olympic Champions in divisions for both men and women.
A year later, the Cook Islands Volleyball Association (CIVA) appointed Menta as head coach of the National Technical Programme in preparation for the 2011 South Pacific Games in New Caledonia (Oceania).
Just this year, Menta was appointed FIVB Volleyball International Instructor and entrusted to develop a Grassroot course for beach volleyball in Majuro and Marshall Islands. As a result, Menta’s team qualified up to the semi-finals of the National Male area for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“In the past year, I have been watching games of the Philippine volleyball teams and I must admit that it’s the FOTON Tornadoes who really caught my attention.” says Menta.
“Coach Fabio’s professional and international experience in the volleyball court will surely contribute to further expanding the talents of FOTON’s players. Coach (Fabio) has trained teams from different countries and we trust that experience will give us an added edge against foreign teams.” says FOTON Pilipinas Team Manager Jose Mari Angulo.
Also powering up the FOTON Pilipinas team are American reinforcements Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer who both played in last year’s PSL Grand Prix as members of the Cignal HD Spikers and the FOTON Tornadoes, respectively. Stalzer arrived in the Philippines last August 13 while Usher got in last August 16, a day before the 2016 PSL All-Filipino Conference was concluded.
Team FOTON Pilipinas will feature the most seasoned members of the FOTON Tornadoes led by Jaja Santiago, Cherry Ann Rondina, EJ Laure, Angelli Araneta, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, Bia General, Patty Orendain and Ivy Perez. Anticipating stiff competition from international teams such as Thailand and China, veterans Abigail Marano from F2 Logistics, Jen Reyes from Petron and Jovelyn Gonzaga from RC Cola were also tapped by FOTON to beef up the team’s capabilities.
Immediately after the Asian Volleyball Club Championship, Coach Fabio Menta will begin training the FOTON Tornadoes in preparation for the Philippine SuperLiga Grand Prix 2016 set to open this October.
“My goal is to make a higher upgrade by preparing new defensive schemes. The leagues where the Tornadoes have participated are evidences of their potential. But it should not end there. If we are to compete in world-class play, we have to train harder, sharper.” notes Coach Fabio Menta.
Dindin gets back in the game with the FOTON TORNADOES
Just three months after giving birth to her first baby, former National University Lady Bulldog Dindin Santiago-Manabat is heading back to the court. This time however, she takes the field alongside previous opponents in last year’s Philippine SuperLiga Grand Prix, the FOTON Tornadoes.
For all intents and purposes, the 6-foot-2 middle blocker will comprise the second leg of twin towers as she joins younger sister, the 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago who has been playing with the team since 2015.
“Since the FOTON Tornadoes joined PSL, their line-up has been gaining notice for its Cinderella-story-like rise in the court. The group started the season placing on the lower half yet ended it up wearing the crown. That’s what I admire the most and I’m very grateful to FOTON because they chose me to become part of the story.” says Santiago-Manabat.
Santiago-Manabat kicked off her professional career in the PSL as the first overall pick in the 2014 season for Petron Blaze Spikers, before having to put her career on hold due to pregnancy. On her return to active duty, Santiago-Manabat is obviously exuberant.
“It’s been a while since Jaja and I played together for one team. I’m excited to be able to show off our best shots together.” she said. Before her temporary break, Santiago-Manabat’s final game was during the 2015 PSL Grand Prix where she faced-off with her middle-blocker sister of the FOTON Tornadoes. The Tornadoes eventually won the season’s championship and earned the right to represent the Philippines in the Asian Women’s Club Championship as team FOTON Pilipinas.
Photos by Winston Baltasar