PH beach volleyball teams to train in Australia for SEA Games
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams are flying to Brisbane, Australia on Tuesday evening for their biggest buildup ahead of the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam set in May.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) and its longtime patron Rebisco hosted a virtual send-off for the players and coaches of the two beach volleyball squads hours before their flight to Australia and for the men’s national volleyball team, which will fly to Qatar on Sunday for their two-week training camp.
Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, who led the country to a bronze medal finish in the 2019 SEA Games, headlined the 12-player delegation of the men’s and women’s squads training for two weeks in Brisbane including two pocket tournaments.
“It was not so easy to find countries who would accept us. We were supposed to train in Japan, but because of the COVID situation in Japan, we had to find other options. Finally, Australia was able to accept us for training,” said PNVF president Tats Suzara during a virtual press conference.
“They will participate in one or two tournaments just to prepare for the SEA Games.”
Army stars Jovelyn Gonzaga and Nene Bautista begged off in the Lady Troopers’ Premier Volleyball League Open Conference campaign to heed the call of the women’s beach volleyball coach Paul Jan Doloiras.
Gonzaga is paired with SEA Games bronze medalist Dij Rodriguez, while Bautista teamed up with Gen Eslapor in their Brisbane build-up.
Men’s beach volleyball coach Vyl Verayo retained the partnership of Krung Arbasto and Jude Garcia after the pair saw action in the AVC Club Championship last year. Ranran Abdilla and SEA Games bronze medalist Jaron Requinton are playing for Team 2, while the third squad is composed of James Buytrago and Pemie Bagalay.
Meanwhile, the men’s national volleyball team coach Dante Alinsunurin and his wards are bound for Qatar on Sunday until April 5 after PNVF’s plan to bring the squad to Italy didn’t work out due to the COVID-19 situation.
“They were supposed to go to Europe, but Italy refused to accept them because of the COVID situation. It’s not a good time to go to Italy at the moment, and their club games are ongoing,” Suzara said.
“Finally, Qatar Volleyball Association, one of our closest friends in volleyball in Asia accepted them. I see also the energetic reception of our Filipino community in Qatar. They qualified for the world championships, and they got a bronze medal in beach volleyball in the Tokyo Olympics. The level in Qatar is really going high.”
However, Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas won’t be joining the training camp due to the ongoing Japan V.League as the two stars are expected to be back in the country in the final week of April.
Jau Umandal, who played for Bani Jamra in Bahrain, will lead the 17-player delegation also composed of reigning SEA Games silver medalist John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara, Kim Malabunga, Rex Intal, Francis Saura, Jessie Lopez, Joshua Retamar, Ish Polvorosa and Jack Kalingking.
Pool members Ysay Marasigan, Manuel Sumanguid, Kim Dayandante, Joeven Dela Vega, Nico Almendras and Lloyd Josafat are also part of the overseas build-up, where they will train twice a day, team practice in the morning and scrimmage with Qatar club teams.
Suzara added that the women’s volleyball team will have a separate sendoff after the PVL Open Conference next month and before its two-week build-up in Brazil starting on April 12.