SEA Games: Espejo, Bagunas leading PMVT together

Mark Escarlote on Dec 04, 2019 10:23 PM
SEA Games: Espejo, Bagunas leading PMVT together
Walang nagpapataasan -- PHI men's volleyball team coach Dante Alinsunurin on Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas

They were the fiercest of rivals inside the court whether in the UAAP or in the commercial league.

Divided by their school colors and their clubs, Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas have far too many clashes with all of them resulting to an epic showdown of skills and strength.

But when the nation called for the services of the two of the best open hitters in the country, the duo were quick to set aside their pride for one common goal: bring glory to the Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

The two has been the cornerstones of the Philippine men's volleyball team’s current success.

It was a match made in heaven, a partnership that took four years to materialize. The 1-2 punch that could lift the 28-year medal dry spell in the biennial meet.

It was supposed to happen earlier, back in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games during Bagunas' debut with the Nationals but Espejo, who was with the team in 2015, decided to skip the call of duty.

Head coach Dante Alinsunurin praised the duo for working well together despite being accomplished stars not only in the Philippines but also in Japan, having experienced playing in Asia’s volleyball powerhouse’s top tiered club league. 

He credited Bagunas and Espejo for their efforts to vault the Nationals into the semifinals of the Games for the first time since the country started to participate once again in volleyball in 2015 after a 10-year absence.

“Siyempre sa leadership ng dalawang players natin na si Bryan at ni Marck na sobrang experience na sa international and sana magtuluy-tuloy lang ang kanilang ginagawa sa team na walang nagpapataasan,” said Alinsunurin on Wednesday after the PHI crushed Vietnam, 25-20, 25-21, 25-12, to clinch a semis berth.

“Nagtutulungan kung anuman ang pwedeng gawin sa team, yun lang sana tulu’y-tuloy lang,” he added.

Espejo, a three-time UAAP champion from Ateneo de Manila University with all of his titles coming at the expense of Bagunas’ National University, was the hero in the Nationals’ opening day sweep of Cambodia. 

In the semis-clinching match against the 2017 edition’s bronze medalists, it was Bagunas, a two-time UAAP champion, who took the spotlight that Espejo was more than willing to share for the country’s cause.

“Alam namin na may skills bawat isa,” said Espejo. “Kailangan talaga mailabas yung full potential kasi nga kung makipagsabayan kami sa lahat, kaya naman. Talagang kailangan naming ipakita yung skills, yung teamwork.”

With another big game coming up against another unbeaten team in 2017 silver medalist Indonesia, expect the tandem to work their magic once again.




Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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