by Waylon Galvez
Philippine men’s volleyball team captain Johnvic De Guzman is confident they can get a podium finish in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this August.
De Guzman, the reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player from champion team College of St. Benilde, said the coaching staff selected players with the best skills from the pool.
More than the skills, De Guzman said they are going to the biennial meet ready and prepared, and that makes them capable of competing for a medal in the hopes of ending a long drought.
“Mas maganda yung preparation namin for the SEA Games this year,” said De Guzman, who has been training along with the team for the last four months. “The whole team, from the coaching staff to the players, we’re all really giving our best for us to be ready.”
“Skill-wise, mas malalim ang team, pero what’s important is we’re training very hard para ready kami pagdating ng SEA Games,” added De Guzman, the only returning player from the team that competed in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.
The Nationals will leave for Japan on July 20 for a 15-day training camp where they are expected to go up against different Japanese club teams.
La Salle’s Geuel Asia said their trip to Japan will help them both individually and as a whole as they prepare to go head-to-head against top SEA Games teams Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
“It’s going to be crucial, malaking bagay for us yung makapag-training kami sa Japan,” said Asia. “We know naman that Japan is not just one of the best in Asia but sa buong mundo. We’ll gain experience there, and hopefully madala namin sa SEA Games.”
For his part, team coach Sammy Acaylar said he is confident that his wards have what it takes to win, and one of the traits he likes with this national team is the dedication of the players to flag and country.
“That’s the most important thing, and hopefully magbunga ng maganda kasi talagang pinaghahandaan ng team na ito ang darating na SEA Games. It’s going to be tough, but I think we have a good chance.”
The last time the national team bagged a medal was during the 2005 SEA Games here when it settled for the bronze medal. It matched the medal finish of the squad during the 1981 and 1991 meets also held here.
In the Singapore SEA Games, the national team finished sixth overall as it failed to advance in the semifinal round, winning just a game in the preliminary round versus Malaysia before losing to Myanmar and Thailand.
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