HOPES are high that the Philippines would advance to the next round after it landed in a “favorable group” during the drawing of lots for the 2014 PLDT Home Fibr Asian Men's Volleyball Club Championship Friday at the New World Hotel.
The Filipino spikers avoided an early clash with Asian heavyweights as they were drawn with Iraq, Kuwait and Mongolia in Group A of this prestigious 18-team tournament set April 8 to 16.
Group B is made up of regional powerhouses Iran and Japan together with Lebanon and Vietnam while Group C features last year's runner-up Qatar, Kazakhstan, Oman, Hong Kong and Turmekistan.
The taller Chinese, meanwhile, are expected to dominate United Arab Emirates, India, Papua New Guinea and Chinese Taipei in the Group D of this conclave that offers a slot to the International Volleyball Federation World Club Championships in Betim, Brazil in May.
No less than Asian Volleyball Confederation executive vice-president Shanrit Wongprasert led the occasion, which was also graced by ambassadors and dignitaries of United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.
Also present were AMCC organizing committee chairman Philip Ella Juico, Philippine Volleyball Federation president Karl Chan and PLDT vice president and head of HOME broadband Gary Duvali.
"This is the beginning of the renaissance of Philippine volleyball in the international arena," said Juico, who is also a former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission. "And a successful hosting of this tournament will formalize our return in the international volleyball circuit."
The Philippines has yet to formally assemble its squad, but coach Francis Vicente assured that the team will not only be strong on paper, but also has the heart and the tenacity to overcome the challenges from its bigger, more experienced rivals.
The final roster will be announced next month.
"We want a good result, that's why we're trying our best to put up a strong team," said Vicente, who handled the PLDT-MyDSL that clinched the men's division crown of the Philippine Super Liga last year.
"Everybody is playing well. Everybody wants to have a slot in the team. That's why we're having a hard time making a decision. But at the end of the day, those who have the heart to compete will surely make the team."
The Filipinos also need to finish at least fourth to be included in the delegation that will compete in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.