AFTER its women’s counterparts, it is now the Philippine men’s national volleyball team’s turn to see action in the 2021 Asian Club Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Coached by Dante Alinsunurin, the nationals begin their campaign in the continental club competition on Friday, playing in Pool A.
It will be the team’s first international competition since its historic silver medal finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
The men’s campaign comes on the heels of that of the women’s national pool, which was divided into two teams by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF), playing under the Rebisco and Choco Mucho banners.
The women’s Choco Mucho squad was to play in the fifth-place game later on Thursday while Rebisco finished at seventh place.
The Rebisco men is composed of veterans John Vic De Guzman (team captain), Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar, and Jao Umandal.
Ysay Marasigan, who played in the 2015 SEA Games, is back to represent the country, while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan are making their senior debut.
Missing are Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are currently playing in the Japan V.League.
Rebisco is grouped along with Iran’s Foolad Sirjan, Qatar’s Al-Arabi, Thailand’s Diamond Food and Uzbekistan’s AGMK.
In Pool B are Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima QminC, Sri Lanka’s CEB, Kazakhstan’s Burevestnic Almaty, Kuwait’s Kazma and Iraq’s South Gas.
The top two teams in each pool after the preliminaries will make the semifinals. The winner of the week-long tournament, meanwhile, will qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in a venue to be announced later.
Mr. Alinsunurin said the tournament like the one at hand is important for them for exposure to competitive level of play and to sustain the gains of the national team program.
Rebisco men will first play Foolad Sirjan on Friday in a match set for 11 a.m. (Manila time). It will be shown live over One Sports+.
Apart from Rebisco, the men’s team’s campaign is also supported by the Philippine Sports Commission. —
Michael Angelo S. Murillo