The national men’s volleyball team quietly left for a 16-day training camp in Tokyo in preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host from 30 November to 11 December.
Head coach Dante Alinsunurin said that aside from getting exposure from various clubs and university teams in Japan, their main objective is to develop their camaraderie and improve their chemistry ahead of the prestigious biennial meet.
The men’s squad is roaring for a better finish.
The last time it emerged with a podium finish was when it clinched the bronze medal in the 23rd SEA Games that the country hosted in 2005. Then, it hibernated for 10 long years only to suffer heartbreaks when they played in the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur edition of the Games in 2017 and 2019.
This year, hopes are high on the Nationals.
Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. Vice President and National Team Program Director Peter Cayco said they are hoping for nothing but a podium finish for the men’s squad, which has been training regularly for almost one year.
Alinsunurin said their Japan trip would definitely help them realize their goal.
“This trip would give us the experience and improve our camaraderie and chemistry on and off the court,” said Alinsunurin, also a former member of the national team.
“We want to test ourselves in real-game situations. We want to know how we would react and how we would adjust when we’re facing a superior and more talented team.”
He said Japan is a perfect training venue.
“The Japanese are quick and smart. They may not be tall, but their system is very effective, something that we can adopt for the SEA Games, where we would face other talented teams like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.”
LVPI Secretary General Ariel Paredes said the trip would not be possible without the support of the Philippine Sports Commission.
In fact, the government sports agency doled out a total of almost P11 million on top of volleyball equipment that they could use in the training and preparation of their men’s and women’s team.
“Like other NSAs (national sports associations) who are preparing for the SEA Games, the LVPI is also very thankful to the PSC and our other partners,” said Paredes, a ranking official of the Philippine Superliga.
“The PSC, through chairman William Ramirez and its board of commissioners, have been with us from the time we sent the women’s team for the ASEAN Grand Prix in Thailand up to now that our men’s team will be training in Japan. They also donated volleyball equipment that could help us in our preparation.”
Skipper Johnvic de Guzman would be at the helm as well as Marck Espejo, Ran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara and Joshua Umandal. Also making the trip is setter Ish Polvorosa, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura and Rex Intal together with liberos Ricky Marcos and Jack Kalingking.
Assistant coaches Sherwin Meneses and Dong Dela Cruz will join Alinsunurin at the bench with LVPI director Rod Roque.
Bryan Bagunas, who is playing as reinforcement for Oita Miyoshi in the V.Premier League in Japan, will also join the camp from 10 to 16 November.
“We also tagged along our reserve players like Joey Dela Vega, Jeff Mangulabnan and Fauzi Ismail since they also need to learn the system,” Alinsunurin said.
“This is a long-term process. They need to absorb everything so they would be ready by the time they make it to the lineup.”