Lazaro leads first batch of national team aspirants

Mark Escarlote on Jan 27, 2017 06:31 PM
Lazaro leads first batch of national team aspirants
It’s ultimately the honor and privilege to represent the country -- Denden Lazaro

Superstar libero Denden Lazaro is ready to answer the call for another tour of duty.

Showing her genuine love for the country and for the sport of volleyball, the former Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagle will spearhead a bumper crop of talents expected to show up for the national women’s team tryouts set Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at the Arellano gym in Taft Ave., Manila.

Lazaro is looking to land a spot for the national squad being formed by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“It’s ultimately the honor and privilege to represent the country,” said the 25-year-old Lazaro, who led Ateneo to back-to-back UAAP titles in Season 76 and 77.

The multi-awarded libero and host of's weekly online show Down the Line also played for the 2015 team that competed in the Singapore edition of the biennial meet alongside ex-Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez and other former Ateneo teammates Jia Morado and Bea De Leon.    

Seasoned head coach Francis Vicente will preside over the three-day tryouts.

Also expected to sign up are Aby Marano, who also played in the 2015 SEA Games, Jen Reyes, Mika Reyes, Bang Pineda and Ara Galang.

Valdez was the first to express her interest in joining the tryouts as well as sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

The 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, however, might be unavailable pending the green light of National University coach and former national team mentor Roger Gorayeb, who announced earlier this week that he will not allow his players from San Sebastian College and NU to join the tryouts to focus on their respective collegiate leagues.      

Valdez, meanwhile, will be shooting for a slot when the tryouts move to Cebu and Davao next month as she will debut with 3BB Nokhonnont in the Thailand Volleyball League on January 29.

“This is going to be an honest-to-goodness selection process,” said Vicente, who coaches University of the East in the UAAP and Generika in the Philippine Superliga.

“More than their skills, talent and height, we want to see their commitment. Representing the country is no easy task. We want to know if they are willing and serious to play for flag and country.”

The men’s team tryouts is scheduled at 6:00 a.m.

Head coach Sammy Acaylar, who was part of the coaching staff when the Philippines won its last gold medal in the women’s division of the 1993 SEA Games, confirmed that those in his “wish list” like Ranran Abdilla, Mark Gil Alfafara, Ysay Marasigan, Howard Mojica and Rey Taneo would be in attendance to fight for their respective slots in the national team.

Based on the blueprint prepared by the two coaches in coordination with LVPI acting president Peter Cayco, a 16-man pool composed of six young, six seasoned and four reserve players will be assembled. But the pool can be increased to 20 players depending on the decision of the selection committee.

The six young players will serve as core of the team that would compete in the AVC Asian U23 Women’s Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima while the entire team would be groomed to campaign in the AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Championship in Manila and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Prior to that, the team would be given maximum training and foreign exposure as it is expected to establish training camps in countries like China, Japan and South Korea.

“We are eager to bring back the glory of the Philippines in international volleyball,” said Cayco. “That’s why are serious in coming up with a strong team that is capable of giving other countries a run for their money.”




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