RIVALS turned first-time national teammates Alyssa Valdez and Mika Reyes could end up as roommates in the Philippine team’s Japan training camp as per the set-up being laid out by coach Francis Vicente.
The national women’s coach disclosed about his plan to shuffle the players’ room assignments everyday for the duration of the two-week camp.
The team currently stays at the Okayama Plaza Hotel after arriving in the Japanese city on Monday.
Vicente said doing so meant improving the team’s chemistry before embarking on its bid in next month’s Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
The veteran mentor added he wants the star-studded team get to know each other more and make them feel comfortable with each other in the hope of translating it to better on-court performance.
Although the players have known each other from way back, negative issues on social media dampened the team’s morale prior to leaving for the 17-day training camp.
“Plano ko na iba-ibahin ang room assignment everyday so that the players can bond and be friends off the court,” said Vicente.
While the team was still in Manila, the Filipina volleybelles were barely complete in training at the Arellano gym in Taft Avenue, and on worst cases, the three-hour practice would sometimes be cancelled due to the unavailability of the players.
Vicente’s plan could also be a way for star players Valdez and Reyes to bond together.
The two actually represented the entire team when they made a courtesy call to the mayor of Okayama City.
Reyes, Jaja Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, and Gen Casugod are former on-court foes turned friends, while Valdez, who is childhood friend with Kim Fajardo in Batangas, will be in the same team with Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili, Casugod, and Molina for the first time.
Aby Marano, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Rhea Dimaculangan were teammates with Valdez, Denden Lazaro, Gonzaga, and Santiago with the national team during the last edition of the biennial meet where it finished fifth.
This developed as the team also strictly implemented the no phones, no internet policy at the start of the training camp in an effort to avoid distraction from meddling trolls on social media as the Filipinas prepare for the SEA Games and the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship.
“Seryosong ensayo tayo dito. Hindi pwede ang wifi-wifi na ‘yan,” said assistant coach Nene Ybanez-Chavez.
Members of the team skippered by Reyes complied and surrendered their phones to the former SEA Games gold medalist shortly upon arrival in Japan.
The nationals had a light training on Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. to 12 noon with the Okayama Seagulls and then had a tune-up game against the Japanese top club team in the afternoon to cap their first day of training.