THE men's national team will fly to Suwon City, South Korea on Saturday for a two-week training camp in preparation of the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
Led by skipper Johnvic de Guzman and Alnakran Abdilla, the team is scheduled to leave at 2:35 p.m. via Philippine Airlines flight 468 to Incheon before taking another few hours of land travel to the historic city.
Head coach Sammy Acaylar stressed that this trip is by no means a vacation as the Pinoy spikers are up for tough tune-ups against top Korean club team Hwasung City, SKK University, Korean Universiade squad and the Korean national U-19 team to test their mettle ahead of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 19-31.
“Pagdating namin sa Korea, may three days sila na tatlong beses mage-ensayo. Then another three days na may twice-a-day practice for morning and afternoon,” he said. “Kumbaga, Monday, Wednesday, Friday three times of practice sessions. Then Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, two times."
SKK University will be the venue for most of the team's training and tune-up matches while some practice games will be at Hwasung volleyball court and Suwon Indoor Gym.
Acaylar's main priority for the training camp is improve the team's speed and floor defense and expose setters Geuel Asia and Relan Taneo to quick decision making and smart plays under the mentorship of a Korean coach.
“Korea is one of the best teams in Asia, that is why pinili ko talaga ang Korea kaysa Japan sa men's. I want to develop the team more on service, receive and pattern of floor defense, and especially, blocking. Dahil sa lalaki talaga, ang labanan diyan ay blocking,” said Acaylar, who steered the national men’s team to a bronze medal in the 1991 SEA Games, the country's last podium finish.
“I told my libero and my setter na every time na bago sila matulog, talagang pahahawakan ko sila sa mga Korean coaches para ma-train sila ng speed ng setting,” he added. “Kasi ang Korea is good in setting eh. Magaling sila mag-train ng setter, that is why gusto ko makuha 'yung speed.”
The national team composed of De Guzman, Abdilla, Taneo, Asia, Bryan Bagunas, Mark Alfafara, Alden Cabaron, Reyson Fuentes, Bonjomar Castel, Herschel Ramos, Jack Kalingking, Greg Dolor, Peter Quiel and John Eduard Carascal will return to Manila on August 3.