TOKYO — Team captain Johnvic De Guzman said a Philippine men's volleyball team that he considers the best ever assembled has a strong chance at a medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“Ine-expect namin na talagang may makukuha [na medal] ang men’s volleyball,” said De Guzman said on Thursday after a morning workout at Hotel Route-Inn Sagamihara prior to their tune-up match against Saitama Azalea at the Ejimi Gym.
"Paulit-ulit kong sinasabi sa interviews na ito 'yung team na sasabihin kong solid talaga na kahit yung nasa bench malalim talaga, yung skill level at yung experience," he added.
The former NCAA MVP is set for his third straight SEA Games and he believes this batch is the strongest he said. But De Guzman insisted that their chances at a medal will depend on chemistry and in-game adjustments.
“Doon na lang magkakatalo pagka tournament na kung paano namin igagalaw yung isa’t isa at kung paano kami magtutulungan inside the court,” the star opposite spiker said.
That’s why the nationals are making the most of their nine tune-up games in their 16-day training camp made possible by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc., Philippine Sports Commission and Rebisco in a bid to end a 28-year medal drought in the SEA Games.
“Magandang experience na makukuha namin, especially yung Japan kilalang-kilala naman pagdating sa volleyball talagang maganda yung program nila,” the PLDT spiker said. “Mabibilis kasi sila, so pag na-adapt namin 'yun agad agad malaking bagay tsaka magiging advantage natin yun sa ibang bansa sa (Southeast) Asia.”
“Alam naman natin y'ung Thailand talagang malalaki tsaka yung advantage nila yung experience nila dahil sumasali sila ng iba’t ibang liga. Talagang kailangan namin mag-double time para matapatan namin 'yung level nila,” he added.
The College of Saint Benilde standout admitted that the team is still adjusting to the chilly weather in Tokyo while bracing for a grueling stretch of tune-up games against top Japanese club and collegiate teams.
The hard work, De Guzman hopes, will pay off when the SEA Games volleyball competition kicks off on December 2.
“Ganoon naman tayong mga Pinoy pag may gusto tayong i-achieve at pinaghahandaan talagang gagawa tayo ng paraan kahit nakakapagod. Kahit sa pinakamahirap na way gagawin namin,” he said.
“Basta maabot lang natin 'yung achievement na gusto nating makamit."