The Philippine men’s national volleyball team arrived in Thailand on Wednesday for the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, which starts on Friday in Nakhon Ratchasima.
This is the first official competition for the men’s team since their historic second-place finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
The team will carry the banner of Rebisco, with Dante Alinsunurin still calling the shots.
“We always focus on team effort in every game,” said Alinsunurin ahead of their departure on Tuesday night. “It is very important for us to compete to sustain the gains of our men’s volleyball program.”
Rebisco is in Pool A 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.
John Vic De Guzman will reprise his role as team captain, while Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar and Jao Umandal are returning to the national team.
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.
The Philippines will be without ace spikers Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are playing for FC Tokyo and Oita Miyoshi, respectively, in Japan’s V.League.
The winner of the week-long tournament will be qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in a venue to be announced later.
The men’s team is not expected to be able to meet up with the women’s clubs — Team Rebisco and Team Choco Mucho — that are currently competing in Nakhon Ratchasima due to strict health and safety protocols. (abs-cbn)