Ex-SEAG MVP, now deputy Nene Ybanez-Chavez quick to remind PH team Japan training no picnic
Former SEAG MVP Nene Ybanez-Chavez is now one of the assistant coaches of the Philippine women's volleyball team. Raph Lazo

IT’S not going to be a vacation.

National team assistant coach Nene Ybanez-Chavez wanrs members of the women’s squad bound for the Southeast Asian Games that their training camp in Japan from July 17 to August 2 is not a picnic.

Ybanez-Chavez said Japan training has been a long staple of the national team even during her time.

“Ang Japanese training staple sa national team noong araw, one month before SEA Games pupunta kami ng Japan,” shared Ybanez-Chavez.

Even Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. vice president Peter Cayco disclosed the Japan training camp was the same regimen of the 1993 national team that won the last gold medal for the country in the SEA Games.

Indeed, it’s going to be all work for the national team that is not only going to compete in the August 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but also in the AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Championship on August 9-17 in Binan, Laguna.

Ybanez-Chavez said the team’s character and discipline will be put to test as the Filipina volleybelles will undergo twice-a-day, three-hour practice and scrimmages against Japanese premier club teams Okayama Seagulls and Osaka Superiors and tune-up matches with college teams Ryukoku University and Kobe Shinwa Women’s University.

“Emphasis nila (Japanese) discipline. Kagaya sa pagkain, dapat mabilis kang kumain tapos kanya-kanyang ligpit,” she said.

As members of the team were being presented to the media during the sendoff Friday at the Arellano gym on Taft Ave., Ybanez-Chavez, the  1993 SEA Games MVP, couldn’t help but walked down on memory lane.

She recalled how the team back then headed by Thelma Barina, Arlene Apostle, Natalie Cruz, Bernadette Burcelis, Mayie Prochina and Len Escollante, would do nothing but train from morning to night – 8 a.m. to 12noon for the morning session and before they hit the sack from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.

“May one time tatlong beses akong hinimatay,” she seriously said.

“Tapos minsan naman nagtaka ako bakit sa akin lahat ng bola kaya tinanong ko si Len, eh ‘yun daw ang sabi sa kanya nung Hapon (na trainer),” added the deputy coach.

“Kaya ginawa ni Len binigay sa iba (ang bola), ayun binatukan siya nung Hapon kasi ‘di sumusunod sa instructions,” she continued.

“Eh ‘di binalik sa akin ang bola, sa sobrang pagod ko na, nandilim na ang paningin ko hinimatay ako,” she said. “Pinaamoy lang ako ng ammonia, tapos noong nagkamalay ako, training na ulit.”

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This year’s batch of national team led by head coach Francis Vicente are composed of captain Mika Reyes, Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Aby Marano, Denden Lazaro, Kim Fajardo, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maika Ortiz, Gen Casugod, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Ces Molina, Kim Dy, and Dawn Macandili.

Asked if this modern-day volleybelles can survive the Japan training camp, Ybanez-Chavez said she’s confident they can make it.

“Pero sa tingin ko naman makakasabay sila, kapag andon na sila sasabay na ‘yan,” she said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada