SEA Games: Pinoy spikers motivated, hungry to elevate PHI men's volleyball
Mark Escarlote on Nov 29, 2019 01:25 PM
The Philippine men's team not only seeks to claim a medal finish but also look to elevate the popularity of men's volleyball in the country.
Dante Alinsunurin knows very well what it feels like to give everything only to come up short.
Fourteen years ago in Bacolod, Alinsunurin was there when the Philippines finished last in five countries that participated in in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.
Now back in the national team but in a different role, the men’s volleyball squad head coach seeks to steer Filipinos to glory and end a 28-year medal drought.
“As a player talaga gustong-gusto ko [mag-podium], kaya lang hanggang doon lang talaga ang nangyari,” said Alinsunurin, who played as utility in the 2005 team alongside Dong Dela Cruz and women’s national team coach Shaq Delos Santos.
“Naisip ko na kapag ako ang naging coach paghahandaan ko kung anuman ang mangyari para pagdating ng SEA Games ready na talaga ang mga bata,” he said.
The Nationals, who trained in Japan as part of their buildup, begin their campaign on Dec. 2 against Cambodia at the PhilSports Arena.
“Sobrang excited ako kasi noong time na naglaro ako na hindi namin nakuha [ang podium finish], sana ngayong taon na napaghandaan natin maka-podium finish na rin,” said Alinsunurin.
Something to prove
For years, men’s volleyball in the country has paled in comparison to the popularity of women’s play.
The Nationals see the SEA Games as a chance to boost interest in their division.
“Nagma-minset na lang kami. Paulit-ulit ko na sinasabi sa mga bata na ‘bago tayo magsimula rito ang gusto natin ay makita na ang men’s [volleyball] umangat,’” said Alinsunurin.
Aside from a podium finish, the team wants to prove that men’s volleyball in the country has elevated its level of play and is as exciting as that of the women’s.
“Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila na ito ang pagkakataon natin na mapatunayan naman din dito sa atin sa Pilipinas na kasama rin ang men’s team pagdating sa volleyball. Lagi na lang kasing napag-iiwanan,’” Alinsunurin pointed out. “Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila na, ‘Ito na ang chance natin, ‘wag na natin bitawan pa.’”
Bannered by top hitters in skipper John Vic De Guzman, Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas and Ranran Abdilla, hopes are high for the Nationals to claim podium finish in the biennial.
Alinsunurin is confident that they can do so.
“Ngayon kasi feeling ko ang team namin ay kumpleto, nandyan lahat, at may mga players na may international experience,” he said. “May international exposure, experience na makalaban ang mga club sa Japan. Ito na ang chance talaga ng men’s team na umangat.”
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