COACH Dante Alinsunirin believes that by bagging bronze in a Thailand stint, the Philippine team has earned the respect of Filipino volleyball fans.
The Philippines, led by tournament’s 2nd Best Outside hitter Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas, Ranran Abdilla, Kim Malabunga and captain Johnvic De Guzman, saw action in the Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Volleyball Championships looking to find their rhythm ahead of the Southeast Asian Games, and Alinsunirin says they gained more than expected.
“Sobrang natuwa nga kami sa nangyari na halos ang mga tao sumusuporta na sa amin. Yun naman ang gusto naming makuha,” said Alinsunurin.
“Napag-usapan namin na, ‘Kailangan nating makuha yung tiwala ng mga tao sa team. Kasi kung gusto nating magsimula lumaki ang men’s volleyball]kailangan maging maganda ang performance natin,” he added.
“At umangat ng umangat ang mga ginagawa natin. Yung sakripisyo natin magbubunga naman yan kapag nakita nila na maayos ang team.’”
The comments section on the livestream for the Filipino spikers’ opening match was filled with criticism as they suffered a four-set loss to Thailand Air Force.
They seemed to have won back some fans with a victory over Fine Chef Phitsanulok that gave them a 1-1 record in Pool A and a spot in the semifinals, where they fell to Thailand Army.
A five-set victory over Saraburi Thai-Denmark gave the Filipinos a podium finish, which for Alinsunurin was a huge step in their goal of bagging a medal in the SEA Games the country is hosting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 10.
“Siyempre sobrang importante yung naging sitwasyon namin sa Thailand. Hindi tayo nanghuhula. Nakita namin ang kalaban namin and kung anong ginagawa nilang play or ginagawa pagdating sa laro,” said the four-time UAAP champion coach of National University.
“Sinasabi namin na kahit paano mayroon tayong pagkukunan hindi yung pagdating ng SEA Games mahirapan tayong mag-adjust kung ano ang laro nila.”
The team, which has been training thrice a week for three months now, will return to Thailand to train from July 28 to August 10 after plans to hold camp in China was scrapped. The team is also scheduked to train in Japan from November 5 to 20.
“Sa Thailand mas makikita namin ang mga players, marami kaming makakalaban,” Alinsunurin said. “Sa China kasi di namin alam kung ano ang programa, kung pupunta kami doon at magti-training lang ba kami doon. Di ata maayos ang naging usapan so magta-Thailand na lang kami.”
The final 14 for the SEA Games will be named after the Thailand training camp.
“Siguro next month pwede ko na ilagay yung 14 ko,” he said. “Mahirap naman yung pagdating na ng SEA Games tsaka ako kukuha. Doon pa lang siguro pagdating sa thailand sisimulan ko na sino yung first six ko, pamalit ko.”
“Gusto ko nga magaraw araw na next month kasi sayang yung materials, sayang yung line-up ko medyo malaki yung chance tapos host pa tayo,” Alinsunurin said. “Malaki yung chance namin na makasama sa apat.”