Power Pinoys battle Mongolians | Inquirer Sports

Power Pinoys battle Mongolians

Five games kick off Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship at 2 venues
By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 03:27 AM April 08, 2014

EVE OF THE BATTLES Coaches and team captains of the 16 clubs taking part in the Asian Men’s Club Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr pose for posterity in yesterday’s press conference. The tournament fires off today at Mall of Asia Arena and Cuneta Astrodome. Many-time champion Iraq failed to make it to yesterday’s launch as the team is scheduled to arrive only early today. The Philippines will be represented by the PLDT Home Tvolution, bannered by actor-sportsman Richard Gomez. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The tough road back to prominence in the Asian men’s volleyball circuit begins for the PLDT HOME TVolution Power Pinoys Tuesday.

Given unprecedented corporate support and enjoying home-court advantage, the Filipinos hope to make an impact in their debut in the Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

The Filipinos get going at 2 p.m. against a taller Mongolian squad in Group A of the 16-team tournament.

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It will mark the first time in five years that a Philippine team will see action in men’s volleyball at the Asian level after a winless campaign in the Asian Volleyball Championship in Manila in 2009.

Only one player—Jeffrey Malabanan—is returning from that 2009 squad with the Power Pinoys to be reinforced by two Australian standouts in Cedric Legrand and William Robert Lewis this time as tournament rules allow two imports to strengthen the squads.

The tournament’s organizing committee, headed by former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair Philip Ella Juico, in partnership with Sports Core and the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) has prepared a simple opening ceremony for the tournament being held for the first time in the country.

The spotlight however will be on the Power Pinoys, who have little room for error against the Mongolians with only three teams competing in their Group following Kuwait’s late pullout.

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A victory could clear the way for a quarterfinal stint for the Filipinos, but a loss could leave them staring at another winless campaign with a tricky showdown against South Gas Sports Club of Iraq coming next on Thursday.

The Power Pinoys, who are expected to be in peak form after training in Korea for close to two weeks, acknowledged the importance of a winning start in the tournament.

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“I’m fully aware that if we lose, we will have a slim chance of making it to the Top 8,” said national coach Francis Vicente during Monday’s pretournament press conference attended by Philippine Super Liga president Ramon Suzara, PVF president Carl Chan and secretary general Otie Camangian.

“We will try our best to win our game,” added Vicente. “It’s all about hard work.” Also part of the PH team are movie actor Richard Gomez, JP Torres, Ron Jay Galang, Alnakran Abdilla and captain Ian Fernandez.

The Mongolians have struggled to make an impact in the tournament, but vowed to put up a strong showing against the hosts.

“This match is very hard,” said Mongolia coach Arunbayar Munkbayar through an interpreter. “Our advantage is our height. Let’s see what happens. We’ll give them a good fight.”

Powerhouse squads Duc Long Gia Lai of Vietnam and Zahraa Al Minaa of Lebanon collide in the 4 p.m. duel at Mall of Asia Arena.

Over at nearby Cuneta Astrodome, Turkmenistan battles Al Rayyan of Qatar at 2 p.m., Kondensat-Zhaikmunay of Kazakhstan tangles with Green Dragon of Hong Kong at 4 and Amoa NCD of Papua New Guinea clashes with Chinese Taipei at 6.

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The games of the Philippine team will be televised live on TV5. The event is backed by Mikasa, Healthway Medical, Maynilad, Gerflor Spurway, Senoh Equipment, STI, PSC, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino.

TAGS: Asian Men's Volleyball Club, Francis Vicente, Jeffrey Malabanan, Power Pinoys, Volleyball

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