ACTION in the Philippine SuperLiga resumes on Sept. 24 with the start of the Invitational Conference.

Adjusted to give way to the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games later this year, the Invitational Tournament, which like other PSL tournaments usually runs for two months, has been compressed to just three weeks with 10 playing dates.

In the tweaked schedule, the eight teams competing will be divided into two pools for the eliminations with the top four teams figuring in the semifinals — #1 versus #4 and #2 against #3 — heading to the one-game championship duel.

The eight competing teams are the Cignal HD Spikers, Foton Tornadoes, PLDT Power Hitters and Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in Group A, and defending champion and newly crowned All-Filipino titlists F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, Petron Blaze Spikers, Generika-Ayala Lifesavers and Marinerang Pilipina Skippers in Group B.

“We need to finish the Invitational before November because by that time, focus will be on our country’s hosting of the SEA Games,” said Dr. Ian Laurel, PSL president, of the biennial event scheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Mr. Laurel was at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, joined by representatives from the different teams, as they talked about the upcoming PSL tournament and their involvement in the SEA Games.

But despite being a short tournament than usual, Mr. Laurel assured PSL fans that the Invitational Conference will be an exciting one since the teams are out to finish their season on a high.

“Even if it’s a short tournament, I’m sure these teams want to end their year by winning this crown,” Mr. Laurel said at the forum held at the Amelie Hotel Manila.

The PSL also went on to reiterate that the PSL is committed to supporting the SEA Games and the national team competing in it.

They are doing it by hosting several tournaments in the lead-up to the Games where the Philippine team can sharpen its game.

The PSL, Mr. Laurel said, will host the second leg of the Southeast Asian Grand Prix on Oct. 4 to 6 where teams from Vietnam and Thailand, among others, will see action in Sta. Rosa. Laguna. The Philippine team is in Thailand for the first leg of the Grand Prix from Sept. 20 to 22.

To give the Philippine team a final tune-up for the SEA Games, the PSL will also stage the Super Cup on Nov. 5, 7 and 9 where the nationals will be pitted against a university team from Japan and two selections made up of PSL players.

ESPN5 will air all matches of the Invitational Conference on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, as well as the SEA Grand Prix and the PSL Super Cup. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo