TOKYO — PHILIPPINE men’s national volleyball team head coach Dante Alinsunurin is leaving no stone unturned as his wards brace for nine tune-up games in their 16-day build-up for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“Sobrang importante sa amin ito. Ito na talaga yung kailangan namin magfocus para pagdating ng SEA Games yung adjustment namin madali na lang,” said Alinsunurin as the Nationals safely arrived in Tokyo after a five-hour flight via Philippine Airlines PR 422 on Tuesday.
The Filipino Spikers got their much-needed rest after taking a two-hour bus ride from Haneda Airport to Route Inn Hotel Sagamihara, where they will stay for the 16-day training camp made possible by Larong Volleyball Sa Pilipinas Inc., Philippine Sports Commission and Rebisco.
The quest for the men’s national team’s SEA Games medal heats up on Thursday as it faces Saitama Azalea at the Ejimi gym – a two-hour bus ride from Sagamihara.
“Siyempre (gusto natin) magain yung experience namin then yung team maging maganda yung samahan, yung jell sa loob ng court,“ Alinsunurin said.
“Actually more on game situation meron kasi silang sistema na kahit papaano na makita namin na mas effective siguro pagdating sa SEA Games kasi siyempre ang Japan kasi mabibilis ang laro. Yun sana ang ma-adapt namin,” he added.
Team captain John Vic De Guzman and Marck Espejo led the large men’s team delegation with Ran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara, Joshua Umandal, setters Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez and Joshua Retamar, middle blockers Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, and Rex Intal and liberos Ricky Marcos and Jack Kalingking.
Pool members Joey Dela Vega, Jeff Malabanan, Peter Torres and Fauzi Ismail, who didn’t make the cut, also joined the trip with assistant coaches Dong dela Cruz and Sherwin Meneses accompanied by LVPI board member Rod Roque.
Bryan Bagunas will join the squad on Sunday as he is currently playing in the Japan V. Premier League as import of Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler.
After their tune-up game on Thursday, the Nationals play three straight friendlies facing Tsukuba United on Friday, followed by Fujitsu Red Spirits on Saturday, before Bagunas joins the squad against Chiba Zelba on Sunday..
The Filipinos will have a team practice on Monday next week before their series of tune-up games resume taking on FC Tokyo on Tuesday and Thursday, Rissho University on Friday, Chuo University on Saturday and Nippon Sports Science University on Sunday to wrap up their friendlies schedule.
Although the men’s squad won’t have as many as tournaments like the women’s national squad, Alinsunurin believes that facing these Japanese squads will make the Filipino Spikers SEA Games ready before they fly home on November 22.
“Mabibilis kumilos, may sistema sila sa lahat ng ginagawa nila mapablock, mapaopensa,” he said. “Sana kahit papaano maadapt namin and makuha namin kung ano pa yung pwede naming gawin sa pagdating ng game”