AS nine-time champion Iran keeps its cards close to its chest, China has bared its intention to reclaim the title in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr set April 8-16 at the MOA Arena and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Current, former members of China’s national team as well as some upcoming talent make up the list submitted by Baic Motors, which will represent the regional powerhouse for the very first time in this tournament long dominated by the Iranians.
Former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Philip Ella Juico, who is the chairman of the AMCC Organizing Committee, received a copy of China’s lineup which boasts of Liu Changdeng and Bao Xisheng who were only recently named to China’s national squad.
Former internationals Hu Song, Kang Kang, Wang Chen, Hu Xizhao, Chu Hui and He Jingzhao have also been tapped to play for Baic Motors.
Frederick Winters, one of the foundations of the Canadian national team, will reinforce Baic Motors, which has a long tradition of triumphs since the team was established in the 1950s.
It has been a consistent winner in the National Games and Leagues from the 1970s to the 1980s and has figured prominently in China’s tough leagues in the past decades.
The Philippines, playing here for the very first time, will be represented by the PLDT HOME TVolution team, also known as the Power Pinoys composed of JP Torres, Ron Jay Galang, Jeffrey Malabanan, Alnakran Abdilla, and actor-sportsman Richard Gomez. Australian players Cedric Legrand and William Robert Lewis will reinforce the Philippine team coached by Francis Vicente.
The tournament is backed by Mikasa, Healthway Medical, Maynilad, Gerflor Spurway, Senoh Equipment, STI, PSC, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and MMDA Chairman Atty. Francis Tolentino.
Tickets are now available online at http://www.smtickets.com/ and all SM ticket outlets.
China won the inaugural AMCC tournament in 1999 behind Sichuan Fulan. China has since then been represented by various clubs, including Jin Hang Wang, Shanghai Cable TV, Shanghai Oriental, and Shaghai Tang Dynasty, which nearly won the crown in 2012 but was thwarted in the trophy match by Qatar’s Al-Arabi, which holds the distinction of being one of the only five teams to win an AMCC crown.
Kazakhstan also has an AMCC trophy which it in 2005.
Korea won the tournament in 2000 and 2001.
But it is Iran which is feared most in this tournament powered by PLDT HOME Fibr, which will be brought to Filipino sports fans via live streaming and replay-on-demand on TVolution – another milestone in sports entertainment.
Iran has won titles seven times with the Paykan Tehran Club (2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011), once with Sanam Tehran (2004) and is the defending champion of the tournament with Kalle Mazandaran as champion in the 2013 tournament hosted by Tehran.
All games by the Philippine team will also be televised live on TV5, the official broadcast partner of the AMCC.
The Philippines, playing here for the very first time, is grouped with Iraq, Kuwait and Mongolia in Group A.
Regional powerhouses, Iran and Japan, together with Lebanon and Vietnam, are in Group B.
Group C features last year's runners-up, Qatar and Kazakhstan, along with Oman, Hong Kong and Turkmenistan.
China is in Group D with United Arab Emirates, India, Papua New Guinea and Chinese Taipei.