Who are the top PH opposite hitters for 2018?

Three of the best opposite spikers of their generation saw little to no court action last year due to injuries.

Chin Basas, MJ Phillips and Jovelyn Gonzaga were sidelined for the most part of 2018 as they nursed separate injuries which did not only kept them from seeing ample court time but also hindered them from joining the national team.

Basas actually started the year on a good note. Together with Bernadeth Pons and Celine Domingo, she powered the Far Eastern University to its first UAAP Finals appearance in almost a decade. She was then recruited by Sta. Lucia, but her ear and shoulder injuries held her back from helping the Lady Realtors in the Philippine Superliga (PSL).

Basas’ Sta. Lucia teammate MJ Phillips also started well before sustaining an Achilles tendon injury. Phillips played through pain in the PSL Invitationals Cup but her injury clearly plagued her. She later on altogether sat out the PSL All Filipino Conference with Basas.

Gonzaga, who tore her ACL back in December 2017, did not see court time at all as she recovered from the hideous knee injury. Arguably the best opposite hitter for the past few years, her absence was truly felt by Cignal and the national team.

But while 2018 definitely wasn’t for these three right side hitters, five names made their rounds in people’s tongues and media forums as they shone in their position last year.

FOX Sports PH ranked these five spikers based on their individual and team achievements. Here they are:

5. Michele Gumabao, Creamline

Michele Gumabao’s transfer to Creamline was a good thing for the eventual two-time champions and a bad omen for their opponents. Gumabao, a three-time PVL champion with her former club Pocari Sweat, is exactly the spiker the Cool Smashers need to man the right wings.

Gumabao earned the Best Opposite award after helping Creamline notch the PVL Reinforced title, and afterwards the PVL Open Conference trophy. She now has five PVL titles under her name.

Outside volleyball, though, the former La Salle star also shone bright as she represented the country in the Miss Globe pageant.

4. Kim Dy, F2 Logistics

Kim Dy was arguably the busiest opposite spiker last year, from exhausting her Final year in the UAAP to suiting up for the national team to officially starting her semi-pro career.

The 5-foot-11 spiker was the La Salle’s go-to girl when it essayed a 3-peat victory in the UAAP early last year. She then resumed her post as starting opposite for the F2 Logistics in the PSL, winning one championship and two bridesmaid finishes.

Dy also has had a couple of international exposure as she and the Cargo Movers competed in the Sealect Tuna Women’s Volleyball Championship in Thailand, where they finished fourth, before donning the tricolors in the Asian Games.

3. Tots Carlos, University of the Philippines

Versatile wing spiker Tots Carlos flaunted her ripest form yet last year. A rookie then, Carlos has grown into a veteran for the University of the Philippines both in the UAAP and PSL.

Carlos finished third in scoring and fifth in spiking after the preliminaries of the UAAP, though her efforts went for naught as UP finished sixth. She sustained a shin injury mid-year, but came back stronger than ever as she powered the Lady Maroons to winning the inaugural season of PSL Collegiate Grand Slam while bagging the MVP plum of that conference.

Carlos was also among the more than 30 players who were called by the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) to tryout for the national team. Though she didn’t land a spot, de Jesus (who initially handled the tryouts) lauded her for showing dedication for the national team.

2. Mylene Paat, Cignal

After years of playing in the shadows, Mylene Paat soared high last year both in local and foreign tournaments. It was, for Paat, a year of revelation and proving her worth.

Paat returned for the Adamson University in the UAAP. In her final year, the lefty spiker emerged as the league’s third most efficient spiker and fourth best blocker. She was the star for Cignal’s third and fourth finishes in the PSL Invitational Cup and PSL All-Filipino Conference, respectively, and emerging as Best Scorer in the latter.

But the most revealing moment was she campaigned for the national team in the Asian Games and AVC Cup for Women. Though only a late minute replacement for Ces Molina, who pulled out from the national team due to injury, Paat proved to be a hidden gem as she was the third best scorer of the national team in the Asiad before coming second next to Alyssa Valdez in the Cup.

1. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Petron

If there is a queen of longevity without showing signs of aging, that is Aiza Maizo-Pontillas. More than a decade into the game and the multi-awarded spiker is still killing it.

The 30-year old lefty spiker can still give her younger counterparts a run for their money. Tall, crafty and well-experienced, Maizo-Pontillas was this year’s best opposite.

The former UST standout listed two PSL championships and two Best Opposite awards with Petron in her already hefty portfolio this year. Despite not being included in the 20-woman national team pool, she was still called up for another national team duty as she participated in the AVC Cup in September.

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