Pinoys in Japan V.League
The Philippine men’s volleyball stars made their respective 2021-22 season debuts on Saturday with Bagunas unleashing 22 points in Oita Miyoshi’s four-set win over Sakai, and Espejo scoring 12 and helping FC Tokyo make a comeback that just fell short against defending champion Suntory.
Bagunas and Espejo are competing again in one league for the first time since the 2019 Spiker’s Turf Reinforced Conference Finals with the latter’s Cignal team winning the title over Air Force.
Two of the brightest stars of Philippine volleyball have been crossing paths since the National University and Ateneo rivalry in the UAAP and they’re often being compared by fans.
But the former Bulldog insisted that there’s no rivalry between him and the five-time UAAP MVP, even they are playing for different teams in Japan.
“Iniisip ng iba rivalry naming dalawa, pero magkakampi kami doon kahit magkaiba kaming team, magsusuportahan kaming dalawa,” Bagunas told Spin.ph.
Their teams will clash on November 5 and 6.
Bagunas,a third-year import in Japan, is excited to face Espejo anew after they led the Philippine men’s volleyball team to a historic silver-medal run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
“Siyempre pag kami magkalaban bibigay namin yung best namin sa bawat game,” he said. “Talagang sobrang masaya kasi yun nga magkakaalaman nanaman kami.”
The 6-foot-5 spiker said it’s just healthy competition between them to help their respective teams with Oita eyeing to rise from last place with a 3-33 record and Tokyo looking to improve its eighth-place (8-27) finish.
“Wala naman kaming paangatan. Goal naman namin, parehas namang nasa lower (bracket) yung team namin so syempre mabigyan ng magandang result yung team namin,” he added.
Bagunas said he’s happy to see Espejo in Japan since his teammate made a ground-breaking debut in the league as the first Filipino import of Oita back in 2018.
“Sobrang saya ako para kay Marck kasi dalawa nanaman kaming Filipino sa Japan. Siyempre laking exposure para sa Philippine men’s volleyball team,” he said.
“Deserve ni Marck yun. Mas deserve ni Marck mapapunta sa Japan kasi sa kanya naman talaga nakilala yung men’s volleyball sa Pilipinas e.”
Bagunas hopes he and Espejo as well as Jaja Santiago, who is Ageo Medics import for the fourth straight season, will have great V.League stints so more Japanese clubs will be interested to Filipino volleyball players.
“Yun lang naman talaga yung unang goal namin sa Japan na maging satisfied sila bilang kinuha kami dito sa Pilipinas. Hindi lang para sa amin, para rin sa mga magiging future players,” he said.
“Ang gusto namin maging maganda ang background sa Japan bilang isang Filipino athlete para sa mga susunod madali lang talagang magiging (option) din yung Pilipinas sa mga ganyang foreign players.”
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.