The Thai darlings of PHI volleyball are back!
ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2017 06:11 PM
Jaroensri Bualee may not be as powerfully accurate in her attacks now, but she remains a solid defender on the floor.
If the names Jaroensri Bualee and Patcharee Saengmuang ring a bell in the local volleyball community, it is because years ago they were whipping up more excitement in the sport that at the time was starting to gain national attention and a wider following.
Now 33, the five-foot-nine Bualee, according to her recollection, was first flown into the country by Sports Vision co-founder Tony Boy Liao in 2005. In halting English, she says she instantly became one of San Sebastian College coach Roger Gorayeb's talents since meeting up with him and Liao in a hotel.
"I played for San Sebastian College as a guest player many times in the V League," she says. "I won a V League championship as a member of the SSC-Sandugo squad in the Reinforced Conference."
She reckons she kept coming back to the Philippines to play for eight years. On one of those returns to what she now considers her second country, she brought along the 5-foot-11 Saengmuang, a member of the powerhouse Thailand national team for 12 years.
Not only did Saengmuang become a talent of coach Nes Pamilar; she was also embraced as a member of the Pamilar household. Over her four playing years in the country, distinguished by one V League title when she suited up for coach Pamilar's Cagayan Valley squad, she stayed with the Pamilars, whose kindness and generosity until now, she says, overwhelms her.
Bualee and Saengmuang, 39, are back to the utter delight of their Filipino fans as among the foreign guest players in the inaugural staging of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference, another grand offering of Sports Vision, architect of the hugely successful but now defunct V League, in cooperation with Asics as its official league partner and Mikasa as its official game ball.
Bualee is donning the colors of the Balipure Water Defenders and Saengmuang is with the Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers.
Age has caught up with both as shown by the lack of wallop and accuracy in their net attacks during their first games in the PVL. What is remarkable, though, was their display of fresh excitement and bigness of heart in their comeback on the Philippine court.
Bualee, however, remains a solid floor defender.
"I put my heart into every game I play. I try to be everywhere on the court, at least to keep the ball alive for my team in defense if I can't be that accurately effective in offense anymore."
"Volleyball is my life," says she. "I am still single and happily so. I need only to play to complete my life. If I can't play anymore I will be a full-time coach."
Back in Thailand, Bualee is coaching kids in an international school. She's already a fully-accredited coach having secured her certificates of coaching (Level 1 & 2) from the world governing body in the sport. After her stint in the PVL, she says she'll proceed to attend the Level 3 coaching seminar so she can be accredited as an international coach.
Enlisted with the Thai Army for 19 years now, Saengmuang is also hopelessly hooked on volleyball.
"I don't mind not being married; I just want to play and play."
Before flying back to Thailand, she says she will find time to visit Cebu and Palawan.
"I like the Philippines. I have many friends here so I will keep coming back to visit them, particularly coach Nes and his wonderful family."