LIPA CITY — Jerrili Malabanan scored the first point and PetroGazz booked the first victory, beating the newcomers Baguio City Highlanders, 25-10, 25-13, 25-10, in the first-ever Philippine Champions League at the Aquamarine Recreational Center Saturday here.
Malabanan, playing out of Far Eastern University, got the ball rolling in the Philippine National Volleyball Federation’s (PNVF) first major offering off a well-orchestrated set from Chie Saet.
The historic first point would be etched in stone for the PNVF which set up the bubble tournament — the first major multi-day national event by any national sports association.
“We serve volleyball and with this Champions League, we serve sports,” PNVF President Ramon “Tats” Suzara said.
Baguio City skipper Cherry Atuban was grateful for the opportunity to play in the Champions League.
“Against PetroGazz, nanibabago kami sa court at sa weather dahil hindi kami masyadong makagalaw,” said Atuban, who together with her sister Ann have club play experience in 2016 in the defunct V-League. “Nag-enjoy kami sa game na ito.”
Highlanders coach Yul Benosa admitted that his Lady Highlanders were overwhelmed as they try to overcome jitters from playing in a high level event.
“Na-amazed sila sa tournament na ito. This is the first time na sasalihan nila at this level,” Benosa said. “Na-stars truck yung mga players. They were trying na huwag ma-intimidate sa mga idols.”
Backing the event are Rebisco, Pitmaster Foundation Inc., Top Speed, 1Pacman Partylist, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee as platinum sponsors and F2 Logistics, Asics, PLDT, MVP Sports Foundation and Mikasa as gold sponsors and BCDA, Philippine Red Cross, Lipa City, Davies Paints and Emerald PVC Pipes, Fittings and Doors as silver sponsors with PNVF godfather, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Champions League, giving his full support.