TOKYO — The Philippine men’s volleyball team got swept by Saitama Azalea, 20-25, 23-25, 23-25, but it showed a lot of promise in its first tune-up match on Thursday evening at Ejimi Gym.
Although the Filipino Spikers still have a lot of things to figure out - especially their unforced errors - in their 16-day training camp, national team head coach Dante Alinsunurin was convinced with the gallant fight of his wards against the Division 2 Japanese squad.
“Ang laking bagay sa amin sabi ko nga eh yung adjustment lang makita namin, yung nangyayari, yung sistema nila naadapt namin,” said Alinsunurin, whose wards kicked off the day with a morning workout before traveling to Ejimi Gym.
“Nandoon naman yung gusto naming mangyare kaya lang hindi naman medyo nabaguhan, yung sistema kasi nila talagang mabilis, yung adjustment (namin) mabagal,” he added, referring to their service errors. “Lumalabas pa rin yung unforced errors namin like yung service namin halos nag-error kami ng seven to eight points.”
Marck Espejo and Ranran Abdilla provided the firepower for the Nationals, who bucked a slow start in the first set before putting up a close fight in the last two frames where they both trailed by just a point, 23-24, only for Saitama wingers to close out both sets to elude Philippines’ comeback scare.
“Masaya hindi naman basta-basta sila kalaban; ayun nakadikit kami, isa na rin yun sa magandang potential ng team na ito,” Abdilla said. “Kasi ang Japan isa sa pinakamagaling lalo na yung depensa nila nahirapan lang kami magadjust nung first two sets pero nung third set nakaadjust kami, kaya lang kulang pa rin.”
Team captain Johnvic de Guzman, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Ish Polvorosa, and Ricky Marcos as well as substitutes Joshua Umandal, Rex Intal, Jack Kalingking, Joshua Retamar, and Jessie Lopez were also instrumental for the Filipino squad in putting up a gallant stand in front of a good crowd at the venue.
Alinsunurin hopes that the team will continue to learn, especially from their unforced errors, as they head to their second tune-up match against Tsukuba United on Friday.
“Sana lang magtuloy-tuloy every time na sino yung makakaharap namin makaadjust kami,” he said. “Kailangan naming magadjust, kailangan namin matuto, kailangan namin makakuha ng experience dito sinabi ko naman sa mga bata pupunta tayo dito para maglaro or ano kailangan magsakripisyo sa lahat ng gagawin natin para sa SEA Games.”