Team USA has 'fun' interaction with 'friendly' Alas Pilipinas

Team USA has ‘fun’ interaction with ‘friendly’ Alas Pilipinas

/ 04:59 PM June 22, 2024

alas pilipinas team usa

Members of Alas Pilipinas and Team USA.–Photo from Alas Pilipinas volley Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — The stars of Team USA were thrilled to interact with the members of the Alas Pilipinas men’s and women’s squads on Friday evening at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.

Alas players Bryan Bagunas and his teammates had a chance to meet USA’s TJ Defalco and Matt Anderson and even libero Erik Shoji, who watched Bagunas’ heroics in the Philippines’ historic silver medal run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. 

Shoji posted a series of YouTube vlogs in 2020, reacting to the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s matches in the SEA Games including its five-set thriller against Thailand in the semifinal.

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“It was really fun. I’ve watched Bryan Bagunas before on YouTube and the team in the SEA Games 2019. It was fun to watch those players. I know they’re so popular here and it was nice to meet him [Bryan]. I’ve seen him play, so, I know how good he is for sure,” said the USA libero of Bagunas, who is now playing in Chinese Taipei.

Besides Bagunas, Shoji was pleased to meet the other members of the squad, taking photos and sharing volleyball tips.

“We met them for maybe five minutes before, then we had the interview and then we talked for five to 10 minutes after. They were fun, you know, I love the Filipino people, the energy they have, it’s so—I’m from Hawaii, and we have similar kind of energies so, it’s been so fun and we just love interacting any time we can,” he said.

Alas setters Jia De Guzman and Owa Retamar also got the opportunity to talk and take a selfie with USA star setter and captain Micah Christenson.

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“We talked to the two guy players, there was the setter and we talked about setting a little bit and then the three women’s team players, we shared food together like we’re friends. It was really informal, felt really friendly and that’s the best thing,” Christenson said. 

READ: VNL 2024: USA posts second straight win ahead of Japan clash

Christenson shared he also encouraged Alas to cheer for them when they wrap up their VNL campaign against fellow fan-favorite Japan on Sunday evening.

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“It was awesome just to get to talk to them, listen to their experience and talk about how who they’re gonna cheer for if it’s gonna be Japan or us tomorrow. So we put a little pressure on them to cheer for us. But that was great they’re all really good people and it’s cool that we’re able to meet them,” said the setter.

Alas players shared their pictures with the USA stars, relishing their time to meet the VNL runner-up and Olympic-bound Americans. 

Defalco said their short but precious dinner with Alas Pilipinas made their first Manila stint more special aside from the warm support from Filipino fans.

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“It was awesome to see the Manila team, especially in a country like this is amazing. To see some of the culture and get exposed to it is awesome. I had a really great time,” Defalco said. “We kind of conversed with all of them. Little pieces here and there. It was just kind of a quick turnaround to get to know each other, and answer some questions and that was it. It was a great time.”

TAGS: Alas Pilipinas, USA, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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