AVC Cup: Jia De Guzman’s leadership brings Alas Pilipinas together

Alas Pilipinas' star setter Jia de Guzman during the Philippines' first game in the AVC Challenge Cup

Alas Pilipinas’ star setter Jia de Guzman during the Philippines’ first game in the AVC Challenge Cup. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIREr.net

MANILA, Philippines — Angel Canino, Eya Laure, and Sisi Rondina formed a potent trio for Alas Pilipinas’ first AVC Challenge Cup game, but they all gave credit to  leadership and playmaking of veteran setter Jia De Guzman.

Bringing her solid experience from the Denso AiryBees in Japan, De Guzman led Alas to a 22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21 win over Australia before an energetic 4,945 crowd on Thursday evening at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

But the Alas team captain believes it was a total team effort with the help of her fellow veteran and libero Dawn Macandili-Catindig.

“It wasn’t just me, it was a total team effort talaga. I can’t do everything by myself so leadership-wise, it’s not just me, Dawn, and the seniors. It’s everyone inside the court,” said De Guzman after tossing nine excellent sets on top of six points including three aces.

De Guzman, who has been representing the country since 2015, lauded her teammates’ floor defense and blocking, making her job easier. 

“It wasn’t easy for me to distribute the ball as I did if my teammates didn’t pass well,  so I have to give credit to the floor defense and the net defense of the team because we are trying to stick to a system so our lives are easier, she said. “

Alas Pilipinas’ Jia de Guzman celebrates with her teammates after a point against Australia in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

“[Australia] is aggressive and bigger. We scouted them in the morning then we we trained for them. Thankfully, we were able to apply it in the game.”

The eight-time PVL Best Setter admitted that the team struggled in the opening set, which they expected since it was their first game together after training for just a week.

So de Guzman stressed that they have to work on their lapses in the little time they have to group between the daily games.

READ: Always welcome at ‘home,’ Jia de Guzman keeps focus on PH squad

“It feels great. Knowing especially that we didn’t have a lot of preparations coming here today. As in, going to this game, we just  regardless of what happens, as long as we leave our best on the floor, we’ll be okay with whatever results.’ Thankfully, the win went our way,” she said.

The Philippines eyes its second win in Pool A against India (2-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. as only the top two from each group advance to the semifinals.

“Every game for us will be a big learning experience talaga. This win is great but there were still a lot of errors errors and lessons that can help us achieve results in the following games. We also need to rest and recover because of the consecutive games,” De Guzman said.