EIGHTEEN teams have so far confirmed their participation in the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr, two more than the initial target of local organizers for the tournament set April 8 to 16.
The country is a first-time participant and host of the event and the Philippine Volleyball Federation will soon trim down a pool of 30 of the best male players to make up the new national team.
Many-time champion Iran is again the favorite to win the tournament, with teams from Qatar, Chinese Taipei and China also among those to watch out for.
Other countries competing are Bahrain, Hongkong, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mongolia, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE and Vietnam.
Ramon Suzara, chairman of the AVC Development and Marketing Committee and member of the FIVB Development Commission, said the list exceeded expectations as the organizing SportsCore had initially targeted 16 club participants.
The PVF and SportsCore will welcome on Tuesday Shanrit Wongprasert, the Asian Volleyball Confederation Executive Vice President and Chairman of AVC Sports Events Council. Wongprasert is scheduled to inspect the Cuneta Astrodome and the Ynares Sports Complex, which will serve as venues for the meet.
"No stone will be left unturned as we guarantee before the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) and the AVC the country's successful staging of Asian Men's Club Championship," said Organizing committee chairman Philip Ella Juico, also a former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.
"Mr. Wongprasert's arrival will further strengthen the Philippines' renewed relationship with the FIVB and the AVC," said Suzara.
Juico and Suzara have invited Wei Jizhong, the honorary lifetime president of the FIVB and AVC, as the meet's guest of honor and speaker.
Wei is expected to be joined in the AMCC opening ceremonies by no less than AVC President Dr. Saleh Bin Nasser of Saudi Arabia.
"The championship will help boost our local volleyball programs," Juico said. "And Mr. Wei is supportive of the new Philippine volleyball program."