COACH Dante Alinsunurin is confident Mark Alfafara, Jao Umandal and newcomer Nico Almendras can fill the void left by Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas as the Philippine team sees action in the 2021 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship from Oct. 8 to 15 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Espejo and Bagunas are in Japan for their stints as imports in the V.League.
But Alinsunurin said he sees solid performances from the team now led by Alfafara and Umandal, who were part of their silver medal run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, as well as first time national team member Almendras as the Philippines makes its first appearance in the Asian club tournament in six years.
“Marami naman tayong naiwan dito like andyan sila Mark Alfafara and Joshua Umandal na mabibigyan ng pagkakataon. Then meron tayong bagong pasok like si Nico Almendras,” said Alinsunurin in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
“Sila yung magpupuno ng position ni Marck and Bryan.”
The Philippines’ 14-member squad still has the core of the SEA Games team led by team captain John Vic de Guzman, Jessie Lopez, Rex Intal, Kim Malabunga, Ish Polvorosa, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar and Ricky Marcos.
Ysay Marasigan, JP Bugaoan and libero Manuel Sumanguid also earned an opportunity to represent the country.
“Kahit naman wala si Bryan and Marck, tuloy-tuloy pa rin yung ginagawa naming pagangat ng team namin. Team effort naman ang kailangan sa laro especially sa sitwasyon namin.”
Alinsunurin also explained that the 2019 SEA Games team starting libero Jack Kalingking was not included in the final roster due to the uncertainty of his availability for the Asian tilt as he enlisted for the Navy.
“Nagkataon lang yung sitwasyon namin na hindi namin alam na marerelease siya sa Navy kaya nanigurado na ko kung sino yung pwede kong dalhin na dalawang libero,” he said after Kalingking was cut with other pool members Lloyd Josafat, Joeven Dela Vega and Kim Dayandate.
Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas
Alinsunurin Made an assurance that the national team will have Espejo and Bagunas in the Vietnam SEA Games next year and other future tournaments as well as Kalingking, who will remain as their main libero.
“Siyempre mababago pa rin naman yung line up sa (future) tournaments. Kailangan sila pagdating ng SEA Games,” he said. “Mayroon naman kaming communication with the club teams of Bryan and Marck. Napagusapan naman namin na everytume na yung national team yung dala namin, makakalaro sila.”
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