Nationals face Indonesia in ASEAN Grand Prix opener

Mark Escarlote on Sep 19, 2019 06:29 PM
Nationals face Indonesia in ASEAN Grand Prix opener
The Philippine national team squares off with Indonesia on Friday to open its campaign in the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix. (File photo)

National team head coach Shaq Delos Santos has high hopes for his squad as it marches into action against Indonesia in the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix on Friday at the Terminal 21 Mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

Despite only a couple of weeks of preparation and missing a key player, the mentor believes that his team is ready to take on the Indonesians in their scheduled 3:00 p.m. match (Manila time).

The Filipinas are coming off a 12-day training camp in Bangkok that saw the squad play a series of tune-up games including the Thai national team and Japan V. Premier League club Toraay Arrows.

“We learned a lot from the training camp, every match we felt that we are getting better,” said Delos Santos, whose squad is also preparing for the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila in November. “Conditioning-wise and skills-wise we are good.”

The Nationals have been training twice a day during the training camp and have been working on their chemistry but Delos Santos admits that the squad might be at a disadvantage especially with the team just playing together for a short time.

Only 10 players from the 14-woman squad have completed the training camp with Maddie Madayag, setter Jia Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure joining the squad just last Sunday as they are all playing in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League.

Top hitter and veteran national team member Alyssa Valdez skipped the training and the tournament to rest after injuring her right ankle just days before her scheduled flight to Thailand.

“So we need to make quick adjustments,” said Delos Santos. “But these are mostly veteran players they can make do with what’s given. We will do our best under the circumstance.”

Carrying the country’s fight are Kalei Mau, Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mylene Paat, team captain Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, Roselyn Doria, Madayag, Laure, Gonzaga, liberos Dawn Macandili and Kath Arado and setters Morado and Alohi Robins-Hardy.

The Nationals will face Thailand on Saturday and Vietnam on Sunday. The Philippines will host the second leg of the Grand Prix on Oct. 4-6 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

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