Tatjana Bokan had heard a lot about Filipino volleyball from a former coach. It is therefore not surprising that the 31-year-old experienced internationalist fits easily into her teammates.
The import of Chery Tiggo crossovers arrived here a month before the start of the Philippine Super League (PSL) Grand Prix on Saturday, and the Montenegrin open spiker said she had an idea of what to expect from her new team could.
A lot of struggle. A lot of waiting for two key stars. And then maybe find another gear if everything fits in the playoffs.
"You received me warmly and the whole team feels like family," said Bokan.
She immediately realized that she would be the leader of a very young team that would start its title hunt with two vital gears that could see no action. The sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat are still competing abroad and will only be included in the squad in the playoffs.
But Bokan has the pedigree to give Chery the much-needed torque for the early route of the tournament. After all, she has strengthened several professional clubs in European and Asian leagues.
"She's the kind of teammate that reminds you when you make the same mistakes over and over," said teammate, 22-year-old Shaya Adorador in Filipino. "It offers leadership in this sense."
Chery Tiggo trainer Aaron Velez said that because Bokan speaks English well, "she can freely say what she thinks and what is crucial for establishing communication."
The Crossovers recently played a tuning game with a master team from a rival club league. And from this match, Bokan knows exactly what modifications are required for Chery.
"There are many small things [we have to improve on] as we still have to connect our receivers and typesetters," said Bokan. "But we try. We do it every day."
For example: Your connection with the top setter Jasmine Nabor, Chery Tiggo's main navigator for crime, still has room for improvement.
"I'm used to playing with big setters, but I don't mind, we're working on it and we'll find a connection and be 100 percent for the playoffs," said Bokan.
The crossovers are in the middle of reconstruction and bring several new faces, led by the national team towards batsman Mylene Paat, into the group.
"I think as a team we have great potential, we have the talent and I know early on that we have chemistry," said Paat. "But how we translate it into victories depends on us."
Paat is not the only new face Chery Tiggo will flaunt. Nabor, Rachel Austero, Janine Navarro and Mary Joy Dacoron joined the crossovers last season. You will strengthen a team consisting of Eya Laure, Laizah Bendong, Marian Buitre, Elaine Kasilag, Arianne Layug, Jen Reyes and Gyzelle Sy.
Formerly known as Foton Tornadoes, the Crossovers want to end a four-year title drought for the franchise.
And between the construction and a championship there are many moving parts that still need some improvements and adjustments.
"This is the first time that I play this system where teams play two roles, and in the end everyone still makes it to the playoffs," said Bokan.
It referred to the Grand Prix format, in which the classification phase is only used to determine the ranking for the co-playoffs.
Somehow, according to Bokan, that doesn't make the first part very important. "But we will use that to build our chemistry and game and be ready for the playoffs," she said.
This format could prove beneficial for the crossovers as it gives them time before the towering Santiago sisters arrive from their stations in the Japan League.
The 6-foot-4-Santiago plays for Saitama Ageo Medics, while her sister, 6-foot-2 Manabat, competes for Kurobe AquaFairies.
They are due to return from Japan in April when the first phase of the Grand Prix is nearing its end.
It seems an understatement, but Velez said it would be of great help if the sisters were back to provide Chery with additional horsepower. In the meantime, “everyone has to ascend. Whoever is in the court should give 100 percent. "
At the moment, Velez said, the immediate goal is to "win games".
Velez & # 39; game plan was very obvious: pile-up victories. Stay tuned. Wait for the cavalry.
And hopefully, when help arrives, Chery Tiggo can take a crucial cruise towards the championship crown that the franchise has not tried for a long time.
EDITORS & # 39; PICK
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