MAKE way for #BAE.
It’s not a Korean pop group nor the newest boyband, it’s the trio of men’s national volleyball team wing spikers Bryan Bagunas, Ranran Abdilla and Marck Espejo.
During their bronze medal finish in the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Volleyball Championships, volleyball fans named the trio #BAE after the first letters of the surnames of the main scorers of the national team in their Sisaket stint last week.
“Nag-picture lang kaming tatlo noon eh, siguro kaya lumabas yung BAE na yun,” said Bagunas laughing.
When he figured out what the hashtag was all about, Abdilla couldn't help but laugh.
“Nung una akala ko kung ano yung BAE tapos nung binasa ko siya, nung inisip ko siya, ay oo nga ano,” said the returning national team member. “Alam mo naman mga Filipino matatalino pag dating sa mga ganyan. Diyan tayo magagaling, hindi nawawalan ng kalokohan yan. Pampa-good vibes siya.”
For Espejo, anything that draws interest to the Philippine men’s volleyball team is a good thing.
“Nagagawan na kami ng kalokohan, so yung men’s team pala nabibigyan na ng pansin ng mga tao,” said the five-time UAAP MVP out of Ateneo. “Hindi lang pala yung eyes ng mga tao sa women’s team, yung suporta rin pala meron na sa men’s team siguro. Masarap sa feeling.”
The 27-year-old Abdilla said he feels younger now that he has been made part of the pop trio. But on a serious note, the veteran said it’s a pleasure playing alongside a well-rounded superstar Espejo and aggressive hitter Bagunas.
“Feeling ko bata ako. Nakakasabay ulit ako sa kanila nagiging bagets,” said the 6-foot-2 opposite spiker. “Ang tagal ko kasing hinintay itong dalawang ‘to e, kasi yun nga maliban sa galing nila sa lakas nila maglaro talagang competitive sila sa kahit anong bagay internationally.”
“Tina-try ko naman para maging katulad nila na magaling,” he added.
Bagunas, who represented the country with Abdilla in the last 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, is delighted that the troika is back in full force for the Philippines after Espejo missed the previous biennial meet.
And now that they have as strong chance playing together for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games from November 30 to December 10, the two-time UAAP MVP has high hopes that they can win the medal together with John Vic De Guzman, Kim Malabunga, Mark Alfafara, Jessie Lopez and Ish Polvorosa under head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
“Nung nalaman ko na magkakasama kami, parang iniisip ko na talagang lalaban ngayong SEA Games,” said the former National University star. “Siyempre nandyan sila [Marck at Ranran] at yung ibang teammates namin talagang pagtutulung-tulungan namin para umokay yung team.”
Espejo said the bronze medal in the Sealect Tuna championship in their first team-up is an encouraging sign.
“Nung ginamit kaming tatlo tapos yung last tournament sa Thailand nakakuha agad kami ng bronze, siguro yun magandang stepping stone yun para sa SEA Games,” said the Cignal star.
But not to burst the fans’ bubble, all three are not yet assured of a spot when Alinsunurin will cut the 20-man pool to the Final 14 this August after their Thailand training camp.
"Nakikita namin sa social media na maraming taong nagti-tweet about doon pero siyempre, wala pa namang SEA Games at di pa naman fixed yung lineup. 'Yung starting six pwede pa magbago,” Espejo said.
Abdilla and Bagunas urge the fans to not just support the trio but the team as a whole.
“Yung goal talaga namin is makilala yung men’s volleyball dito sa atin hindi lang para sa future namin kundi sa future ng mga volleyballista,” Abdilla said.
"Nakikita na rin ng mga fans yung men’s national volleyball team na parang nagiging okay na yung sitwasyon ngayon. Yung mga players nagkakaisa na,” Bagunas added.
“Sana suportahan talaga ng maraming fans ang volleyball and sana hanggang sa dulo andoon yung suporta nila. Hindi lang kung kailan malapit yung SEA Games, talagang long term.”