AS team captain Johnvic de Guzman pointed out the impact of the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, stars Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo noted it was a huge team effort that ended years of frustration for the Pinoy spikers.
Indonesia proved too much for the Philippines in the closing match, but it was clear that the home team has won the hearts of the fans.
The goal was simply to make it to the podium after 28 years — the last medal, a bronze, came in 1991.
This Philippine men’s team wound up matching the country’s silver medal finish of the 1977 squad.
“Sobrang tamis kahit hindi namin nakuha yung gold medal kasi eto na yung binigay ni God sa amin na mas mataas pa doon sa ineexpect na makukuha namin,” said team captain Johnvic De Guzman told reporters.
“Mas masarap sa pakiramdam yung suporta ng lahat ng tao, lahat ng Pilipino na nanuod sa amin ngayon. Iyon din naman yung plano namin from the very start, tumaas yung men's sa industriya ng volleyball,” De Guzman said.
Espejo and Bagunas, the biggest hitters in the local scene who have earned spots in foreign clubs, said they are pleased that the SEA Games competitions provided a stage for the other stars of Philippine volleyball to shine.
Ran Abdilla, Kim Malabunga, Rex Intal and young setter Joshua Retamar were among those who grabbed a share of the limelight as the Philippines made the dream run.
“Siguro napansin nila lang yun kasi sa amin tumatakbo yung bola pero lahat naman kami dito magaling,” said Espejo.
“Kaya nga kami napunta sa national team kasi lahat kami may talent. Team sport naman tong volleyball. Sa proper guidance lang ng teammates at coaches.”
Bagunas also lauded Francis Saura, liberos Jack Kalingking and Ricky Marcos as well backups Jessie Lopez, Ish Polvorosa, Mark Alfafara and Joshua Umandal for their contibutions.
“Siyempre, 'di naman namin magagawa 'yun kung hindi dahil sa teammates namin na palaging sumusuporta sa amin dalawa,” said Bagunas.
Alinsunurin said the best is yet to come.
“Siyempre kung gusto talaga naming iangat ang laro namin kailangan talaga namin na January mag-start na kami [ng training]. Sana tuluy-tuloy na talaga,” said Alinsunurin, whose team had an eight-month preparation and bagged bronze in the Thailand Tuna Sealect Open Tournament.
With LVPI and the coaching staff still working out details for the training program next year, this squad has to part ways for now.
Alinsunurin and the National University Bulldogs shift focus on the a UAAP ‘three-peat,’ Espejo sees action in Thailand, while Bagunas plays for his club in Japan.
“Dahil nga tapos na yung SEA Games, lahat babalik na sa kanya kanyang universities, kanya kanyang trabaho at club teams,” Espejo said. “ltuloy pa rin natin yung suporta sa upcoming UAAP, NCAA at sa Spikers’ Turf. Sama masubaybayan rin yung games ng lalaki.”