PH men’s volleyball team braces for tough competition in AVC tilt
MANILA, Philippines—The men’s national volleyball team has always had a good track record when it comes to international competition, becoming one of the stronger squads in the region.
A silver medal finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games cemented the team’s success and now, flying under the Team Rebisco banner, the squad is ready to face the top Asian clubs in the 2021 AVC Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship.
Veteran hitter John Vic De Guzman, though, is well aware that competition will be stiff.
“We came here for exposure and experience. Of course we want to win, but our opponents are no pushovers,” said De Guzman. “But we need to compete against them to get better.”
Team Rebisco is pooled in Group B with Foolad Sirjan of Iran, Al-Arabi of Qatar, Diamond Food of Thailand, and AGMK of Uzbekistan in the tournament that will be played from October 8 to 15 in Nakhon Ratchasima.
De Guzman said that he’s delighted to have the opportunity to play once again especially after sports was practically stopped in the Philippines due to COVID-19.
“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. And of course, the risk of getting the virus is there,” said De Guzman.
The Philippines, however, will not have stars Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas as the two are playing for Tokyo and Oita Miyoshi, respectively, in the Japanese V.League.
The team will have usual names such as Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar and Jao Umandal.
The 2015 SEA Games veteran Ysay Marasigan is returning to the team while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan are making their international debuts.
“Something that makes us more inspired to work hard as a team is we are competing for flag and country,” said De Guzman. “We have so much to learn if we have to achieve the Asian level of competition.”