By Kristel Satumbaga
The Philippine men’s volleyball team left for Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday for extra training needed for its campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games late this month.
The camp will run for 11 days where the Nationals are scheduled to have tuneup matches against Japanese club teams and university squads.
“This trip would give up the experience and improve our chemistry needed for the SEA Games,” said head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
“We want to test ourselves in real-game situations. We want to know how we would react and how we would adjust when we’re facing a superior and more talented team.”
Japan is known as a powerhouse in volleyball, with its men’s squad a familiar face in the Olympics, Asian Games and the World Cup.
Alinsunurin said Japanese players are known for their quickness despite their height disadvantage to which Filipinos can relate.
“They may not be tall, but their system is very effective, something that we can adapt for the SEA Games,” he said.
Johnvic De Guzman spearheads the squad composed of Marck Espejo, Ran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara, Joshua Umandal, Ish Polvorosa, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Rex Intal, Ricky Marck and Jack Kalingking.
Reserve players Joey Dela Vega, Jeff Mangulabnan and Fauzi Ismail will also join the training.
Accompanying the team are assistant coaches Sherwin Meneses and Dong dela Cruz, and Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. director Rod Roque.
Bryan Bagunas, who is playing for the Japanese team Oita Miyoshi in the V.Premier League will also join the camp.
“This is a long-term process for us, not just for the SEA Games,” Alinsunurin said of their trip supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
A few weeks ago, the PH women’s squad also had a training camp in Japan.
In this year’s SEA Games, the Nationals are bracketed in Group B along with last edition’s silver and bronze winner Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as Cambodia.
Group A will have reigning champion Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Timor Leste.
The PH squad hopes to eclipse its sixth place finish at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition.