Team Rebisco opens its campaign in the 2021 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship Friday when it takes on Foolad Sirjan of Iran.
Match is at 11 a.m. with the Filipino spikers seeking to make a strong start.
The men’s spikers left for Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand Wednesday night for the weeklong tournament, which stakes a berth to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships at an undetermined date.
The Filipinos are bracketed in Pool B that also consist of Al-Arabi of Qatar, AGMK of Uzbekistan and Diamond Food of host Thailand.
Pool A comprises hometown squad Nakhon Ratchasima QminC, Kazama of Kuwait, South Gas of Iraq, CEB of Sri Lanka, and Burevestnic Almaty of Kazakhstan.
The top 2 teams in each group advance to the semifinals, while the remaining squads will battle in the classification phase.
Rebisco coach Dante Alinsunurin is confident of his squad despite the absence of key players Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are currently playing for Tokyo and Oita Miyoshi in the Japan V.League.
“We always focus on team effort in every game,” Alinsurin said prior to the team’s departure.
“It is important for us to compete to sustain the gains of our men’s volleyball program.”
This would be the first time that the team will see action in any tournament since its historic silver medal finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The team spent a month of training in a bubble-type setup in Lipa City, Batangas for the competition.
Skipper John Vic De Guzman said they trusted each other’s skills and chemistry, but remains wary of their rivals including Sirjan Foulad, who is coming off a title win at the Iranian Super League last April.
“They are no pushovers,” De Guzman said.
Other members of the team are Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar and Jao Umandal, who is part of the 2019 SEAG squad.
Ysay Marasigan returns to the team after competing in the 2015 SEAG, while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan make their senior debut.
Rebisco will next face Uzbekistan’s AGMK at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a 7:30 p.m. Sunday clash with Qatar’s Al-Arabi Sports Club.