MANILA, Philippines – Philippine men’s national volleyball team coach Sammy Acaylar is reluctant to assess his squad’s chances in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia until he sees how they respond to a grueling training camp in South Korea.
The men’s team leaves for South Korea on July 22 for a camp that lasts until August 4, with Acaylar putting a premium on improving their reception, floor defense, and net defense there.
“Sa lalaki talaga, ang labanan diyan ay blocking,” Acaylar said after the Philippines demolished Macau in straight sets during a tune-up game last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena. “And of course, I told my libero and my setter na every time bago sila matulog, talagang pahahawakan ko sila ng Korean coaches para ma-train sila ng speed ng setting.”
“Korea is good in setting eh. Magaling sila mag-train ng setter, that is why gusto ko makuha ‘yung speed,” he explained.
[The men’s game is built on blocking. I also told my libero and my setter to work hard with the Korean coaches, because Korea is good in setting. I want my setter to learn that kind of speed in setting.]
Acaylar has put together a powerful team that includes NCAA standout Johnvic de Guzman and former UAAP stars like Mark Alfafara and Reyson Fuentes, as well as current National University spiker Bryan Bagunas.
When asked if the team is capable of making it to the Top 4 in the SEA Games, Acaylar was hesitant to offer any promises.
“Of course, we want to,” he said. “But depende pa rin siya sa performance namin sa Korea [It depends on how we perform in Korea].”
The coach had been dissatisfied with how his players performed in the tune-up against Macau, and so he is hiking up the intensity of their practices. The training sessions are only expected to become more arduous when they get to South Korea.
“I can guarantee sa inyo na kapag nasa Korea na kami, at nakita ko na talaga ‘yung galaw, ‘yung character and heart ng team namin, that’s when makakasabi na ako sa inyo kung saan na kami pupunta,” said Acaylar.
“But as of now, ‘yung nakikita ko sa kanila sa training namin, hindi lumabas,” he said. “That’s why more training pa ang gagawin namin.”
[When we get to Korea and I see the performance, the heart and character of the team, that’s when I can tell you how far we can go. But as of now, their performance in training did not translate into their game. That’s why we still need to continue training.]
The Philippines was drawn in Group B in the SEA Games, along with Vietnam, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. Acaylar said the other teams in their pool are strong, and he has already began scouting them with still a month to go before the competition.
“It’s import na isa sa kanila or silang dalawa (Indonesia and Vietnam), talunin namin para makapasok kami sa apat,” he stressed.
[It’s important that we beat at least one or hopefully both of them so we can make it to the Top 4.]
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