THE new Filipino-American recruits of the Philippine men's national volleyball team admitted feeling the pressure to lead the country to a podium finish in the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) on Saturday announced the inclusion of wing spikers Michael Vicente, Steven Rotter and middle blocker Cyrus De Guzman in the national team ahead of the biennial games in Cambodia in May.
Opposite spiker Rotter, who is playing for the AMC-Cotabato Spikers in the Spikers’ Turf, and former Volleyball League of America player Vicente, who played in the US NCAA Division I, both hail from California, while 6-foot-6 middle blocker De Guzman is from New York.
Vicente, De Guzman, and Rotter are expected to bolster the PH squad which will compete without veterans Mark Espejo, Bryan Bagunas and setter Joshua Rematar who were part of the squad that placed second in the 2019 SEA Games.
"I think there's a little pressure knowing in 2019, you guys won the silver medal and you guys are always aiming to go bigger, go big or go home. So [the] pressure of having that gold medal in the back of our minds, puts a little anxiety for me," Rotter said.
The PNVF also announced that Brazilian coach Sergio Veloso will lead the team following the exit of Dante Alinsunurin, who steered the Philippines to its historic silver finish four years ago.
Under a new system, these players are optimistic of bringing glory to the Philippines which only finished fifth in the 2022 SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
"But knowing the players we have [and] the new coach we just added, I think we have a good chance of competing in the SEA Games and hopefully achieving what everyone wants which is a gold medal," Rotter shared.
"There's definitely some pressure. They have big expectations for us but I think we're ready to live up and deliver. You know, our goal here is to win SEA Games but also just put Philippines volleyball on an international stage," De Guzman said.
The team will fly to Japan for a training camp before the Camboda SEA Games slated to start on May 5.