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Rizal defends MPVA home turf

‘We’re very excited because we’re playing on our home court.’

Rizal Xentro Mall gets to experience the first homestand when the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association kicks off its inaugural tournament on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.

Golden Coolers head coach Cromwell Garcia expressed both excitement and pressure being the first host team in the eight-squad tournament implementing a home-and-away format.

The home squad will defend its turf against the San Juan City Lady Knights in the main game at 6 p.m.

“We’re very excited because we’re playing on our home court.  We want to promote the Rizal Province and repay the trust given to us,” Garcia, also the head coach of Lyceum of the Philippines University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said.

“We will be inspired in our game because we will have a big boost coming from the residents of Rizal who will be there to support us.”

Caloocan and Negros Oriental battle in the curtain-raiser at 3:30 p.m. following the opening ceremony at 1 p.m. led by league founder former senator Manny Pacquiao.

MPVA held its general technical meeting and press conference on Wednesday at the Club Filipino in San Juan attended by team officials, coaches and team captains of all eight pioneering squads.

Also joining the maiden tournament of the community-based league promoting homegrown talents are Bacoor, Binan, Marikina and Nasipit.

“Aside from promoting homegrown players, the cities will also have an opportunity to promote or show their tourist spots. It is part of sports tourism which is also being eyed by Senator Pacquiao,” MPVA commissioner Mike Tavera said.

Three other teams — Manila, Bulacan and Quezon City — were introduced as prospective squads during the MPVA’s launch last month but deferred from joining because of the short time of preparation in forming a competitive team.

Tavera said the teams have expressed interest in joining in the next season.

The tournament format will have all eight teams play a round-robin opening round. In the second round, teams will be grouped into two groups with four squads each where the top two in each bracket will carry a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals and finals are best-of-three affairs.

MPVA will implement the video challenge system starting in the quarterfinals.

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