VNL 2024: Team USA's Erik Shoji lauds 'awesome' Filipino fans

VNL 2024: Team USA’s Erik Shoji lauds ‘awesome’ Filipino fans

/ 04:50 PM June 20, 2024

Erik Shoji and Team USA in the VNL 2024 Week 3 Game in Manila.

Erik Shoji and Team USA in the VNL 2024 Week 3 Game in Manila. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Despite a losing debut in Manila, USA libero Erik Shoji felt the love of the Filipino fans, whom he considers the “nicest people in the world.”

USA’s effort went for naught as its comeback was denied by Iran, 26-28, 25-23, 25-18, 26-28, 15-13, in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 3 on Wednesday evening at Mall of Asia Arena.

But the American libero appreciated the cheers and warmth of the Filipinos despite their dimming Final Eight chances. 

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VNL 2024 SCHEDULE: Week 3 Manila, Philippines leg

“We love them. It’s a late night, they’re awesome. Salamat to all the Filipino fans. We’ll see them soon,” Shoji said. 

“We know that Filipino fans love volleyball so we thank them so much for coming and cheering. I’m from Honolulu so it’s cool to be here and it’s been an awesome experience so far.”

Even after the loss, Shoji, Micah Christenson, and other Americans stopped by the Fan Zone to meet some Filipinos.

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READ: VNL: Micah Christenson, USA grateful for fans’ support in loss

 Shoji also lauded the hospitality of the Philippines as a host of the VNL for the third straight year.

“They’re taking really good care of us and people are so nice, so accommodating. They’re the nicest people in the world I think,” the 34-year-old libero said. “We’re really happy to be here for the first time. I think it’s almost everyone’s first experience here and so far it’s going good except for that match.”

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Shoji and the Americans have no time to dwell on their loss to Iran as they battle Brazil on Thursday evening. 

“We have to learn from this one, move forward and it’s always a good one against Brazil,” Shoji said. “I think we were up and down, of course. We wanted to win today and just be a little bit better and be a little more crisp with our game. Iran played really well. They always play well against us. It was unfortunate in the end to lose that one.”

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The Olympic-bound USA is currently in 12th place with a 3-6 record.

TAGS: USA, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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