by Kristel Satumbaga
The Philippine men’s volleyball team is looking at two foreign trips as part of its buildup for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games that the country is hosting late this year.
National team coach Dante Alinsunurin said they’re planning to visit China late next month before capping their preparations with a training camp in Japan in their bid to improve their sixth place finish two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
Both China and Japan are the region’s traditional powers and Alinsunurin is confident his boys will come out stronger – mentally and physically after the training camps.
“Dire-diretso naman ensayo namin. Di nawawala yon,” said Alinsunurin, who is fresh from steering National University to its second straight UAAP championship.
Alinsunurin is likewise looking at trimming down the training pool to 14 players by next month.
At the moment, the pool is currently competing in the Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference where it is up against some of the country’s best semi-pro club squads.
Among those seeing action for the Rebisco Philippines in the tournament are reigning UAAP MVP Bryan Bagunas, Johnvic de Guzman, Mark Espejo, Mark Alfafara, Rex Intal, Peter Torres, Kim Dayandante and Ish Polvorosa.
The country’s best showing in six times they took part in the SEA Games was a runner-up finish during the 1977 Malaysian edition.
And the last time they made it to the podium was during the 2005 Manila Games where they wound up third.