BRYAN Bagunas has a big decision to make for the next Japan V. League season after receiving offers from other teams and renewal from his club for the past two years, Oita Miyoshi.
Bagunas bared to Spin.ph that he received offers from Toray Arrows and FC Tokyo and a pending contract extension from Oita Miyoshi for the third straight season.
“As of now naman meron nag ooffer sakin na ibang teams sa Japan. Toray Arrows and Tokyo,” the 23-year-old spiker said. “At ang Oita naman gusto ulit nila ako i-renew.”
Bagunas and Oita Miyoshi finished last in the 10-team field, winning only three out of 36 matches.
Toray Arrows, who are recruiting the Filipino import, finished sixth with a 17-16 win-loss record while the other interested team, FC Tokyo, had an 8-27 slate at eighth place.
The 6-foot-5 outside hitter is pondering what’s best for the next chapter of his international stint with still a lot of time to decide as the 2021-22 Japan V.League is set to open in October.
“Pero siyempre kailangan ko pag isipan ng mabuti desisyon ko,” he said.
For now, Bagunas is looking forward to lead the Philippine men’s volleyball team in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
His possible national team stint will have another conflict with the V League schedule but Bagunas assured his commitment to play for the country like he did two years ago, when he missed several games for the Weisse Adler and steered the men’s team with a historic silver medal.
“Yun yung problem talaga pero syempre need ko mag laro sa national team syempre kung hindi dahil sa 'Pinas, 'di din naman ako makikilala ng ganito sa volleyball eh. Kaya hangga't maaari mag lalaro ako for the Philippines.”
With the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Inc. retaining Dante Alinsunurin as head coach and planning to hold a bubble tryout to form a 25-man pool, Bagunas hopes to start building up for their SEA Games gold bid after more than a year of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ako sobrang excited na ako. Sana nga magsimula ng training ng national team kasi mas okay talaga pag may maayos at enough na preparation,” he said. “Kasi syempre ibang level na din yung hinahangad natin para sa men’s volleyball. Kumbaga nasimulan na eh so ituloy na yung pag angat talaga ng volleyball sa 'Pinas.”
Bagunas and Espejo were the only active men’s volleyball players amid the pandemic with the latter playing in Bahrain last year.
But for the National University standout Bagunas, he was not satisfied with his performance from the recently concluded Japan league, capped by a minor right knee injury in Oita Miyoshi’s second to the last game in March 27 against Toray.
“For me, di ganon ka-okay para sa akin yung naging resulta this season kasi talaga parang may kulang sa team namin kaya palagi kami kinakapos. 'Di lang talaga ako satisfied na result and naging performance ko this season,” Bagunas said. “Halos first six kasi talaga samin this season bago eh tapos ang babata pa namin sa loob more on 23-25 age lang eh. Si Curtis (Stockton) lang talaga yung matanda samin kaya siguro 'di ganon ka smooth yung game namin. Feeling ko kulang pa kami sa experience talaga.”
The former UAAP MVP admitted that last year’s five-month inactivity also affected his game despite his eagerness to play again and improve his game.
“Sobrang hirap bumalik pag talaga natigil ka sa pag lalaro ng volleyball kahit totally na condition ka physically pero iba pa din talaga pag di ka nakakahawak ng bola,” Bagunas said. “Then siguro madali lang mag adjust ulit kung talaga willing ka pero para sakin una nahirapan ako marami sumakit. Pero siyempre madali lang na overcome kasi eto yung buhay ko e volleyball.”
Once the Philippine men’s volleyball team returns to action, Bagunas hopes to help and inspire his teammates in regaining their physical and mental strength from a year-long hiatus.
But he knows that all his fellow men’s players can make the biggest comebacks of their careers with their eagerness to play again.
“Papakita ko lang sa kanila yung full support ko kahit nga ayun matagal sila natigil,” Bagunas said. “Pero kilala ko naman mga yun malaki tiwala ko sa mga yun kahit matagal tigil kundisyon mga yun saka mabilis lang makaka recover sa volleybal. Mahal naman nila ang volleyball e.”
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