Jau Umandal rues ‘lack of preparation’ as PH men’s volleyball team out of medal race
PHNOM PENH—The national men’s volleyball team mapped out a blueprint that could propel them back to the medal podium of the Southeast Asian Games starting with an extensive training camp in Japan.
Two games into the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, the foreign trip highlighted by tuneup matches that ran for two weeks, it seemed, wasn’t enough.
“The heat (inside the gym) wasn’t a factor. We simply lack the preparation for this tournament,’’ said Joshua Umandal following an 18-25, 18-25, 17-25, setback against Cambodia late Thursday evening that threw the Philippines out of the semifinal picture for good.
The men’s team has been trying to reclaim a spot at the medal podium of the SEA Games after a silver performance back in the 2019 version held in Manila.
“Compared to the team back in 2019, ours didn’t have a long period of training together,’’ said Umandal.
Prior to that stinging defeat against the host country at the humid Indoor Olympic Stadium, the rebuilding men’s squad suffered an early 18-25, 18-25, 23-25, loss against defending champion Indonesia.
“It was a heavy schedule for us after facing Indonesia and Cambodia right away,’’ said Umandal, the lone holdover from the 2019 Philippine men’s squad that wound up with a silver performance.
Jade Disquitado joined forces with Jay Rack De La Noche to keep the Filipinos within range in the third set, but not a few mistakes hounded them in the end.
The 18-year-old Disquitado, the creative scorer from Iloilo who impressed the national team coaching staff during the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference.
Disquitado spearheaded the D’ Navigators to the Final Four and was named Best Outside Spiker of the tournament.
“We felt that we were ready. We started out well in both games, but we lacked the ability to finish strong at the endgame,’’ said Umandal, the most veteran spiker from the team where 12 out of the 14 players are newbies.
“Our errors hurt us in the final set,’’ added the opposite hitter from the Philippine Navy.
The Filipinos will end their Group A campaign on Saturday against another winless squad in Singapore as they seek to finish the tournament at a possible modest performance of fifth place.
“We only have 10 days in the camp in Japan and we played with a lot of pressure. Our focus in this tournament is not only to be in a good position, but to try our best and give our 110 percent,’’ said head coach Sergio Veloso.
“Now we have a good match with Singapore and it’s important that we play at a high level. But when you continue making the same mistakes, how can you improve?’’ added the Brazilian coach.