A perennial national team fixture, John Vic De Guzman is more than ready to help Rebisco in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship which opens Friday in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
The Philippines debuts in Pool B against Iran’s Sirjan Foulad at 11 a.m. (Manila time), with De Guzman promising modest expectations.
“We came here for exposure and experience. Of course we want to win, but the our opponents are no pushovers,” De Guzman said. “But we need to compete against them to get better.”
Rebisco will miss outside hitters Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are both playing for Tokyo and Oita Miyoshi, respectively, in Japan’s V.League.
Playing for the first time since the historic silver medal run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, De Guzman is feeling good to represent the country anew in this extraordinary time.
“We’re happy to be playing again, but of course, we cannot say if we can go 100 percent because the pandemic stopped sports back home,” he said. “And of course, the risk of getting the virus is there.”
The team, whose participation in Thailand is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Rebisco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Asics, trained for two months in a bubble facility in Lipa City.
Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar and Jao Umandal are returning to the national team.
Ysay Marasigan, who played in the 2015 SEA Games, is back, while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan are making their senior debut.
Ranged against the likes of Sirjan Foulad, who won the Iranian Super League championship last April, is something that De Guzman is looking forward to.
“Something that makes us more inspired to work hard as a team is we are competing for flag and country,” said the former College of Saint Benilde star. “We have so much to learn if we have to achieve the Asian level of competition.”
Rebisco will next face Uzbekistan’s AGMK at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a 7:30 p.m. Sunday clash with Qatar’s Al-Arabi Sports Club.
The Filipinos will wrap up their Pool B preliminary round stint against home club Diamond Food at 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
Rebisco needs to finish in top two in its pool to reach the semifinals.