This is a challenge for the team -- PHI team coach Acaylar

This is a challenge for the team -- PHI team coach Acaylar
This is a challenge for me and challenge for my team sa SEA Games and I hope matuto sila -- PHI national men's volleyball team head coach Sammy Acaylar

SUWON CITY, South Korea --- The Philippine national men’s volleyball team suffered another defeat at the hands of the towering and athletic Korean U-19 squad Tuesday.

Out of the 20 sets they played against the host team in their four tune-up matches at the Sungkyunkwan University gym here, the Nationals won only three.

The members of the team, which is composed of stars coming from different universities and clubs who participated in the tryouts called by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and heeded the call for a tour of duty in the 29th Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games, were obviously frustrated.

They’re very hungry for a match win that eluded them since arriving in this Asian men’s volleyball powerhouse last July 22.

Seven tune-up matches including two from Korea’s Universiade team and club team Hwasung City resulted in defeat.

Those practice games exposed the weaknesses of the team that head coach Sammy Acaylar and his coaching staff need to address heading into the biennial meet from August 19 to 31. 

“I’m disappointed of course. But I’m thinking of solutions for the lapses of my team,” said Acaylar after his wards dropped an atrocious 9-25, 14-25, 15-25, 21-25, 26-28, decision against the U-19 team. 

“I accept naman na malakas talaga ng Korean U-19. Of course gusto nating manalo to the point na nandoon na tayo,” he added.

The set score of the opening frame was the most lopsided beating the PHI team suffered at the hands of the Koreans.

It was a whipping that came a day after the Filipinos suffered a 23-25, 18-25, 25-21, 20-25, 10-15, setback against the same opponents a day ago.

Monday’s training session was a downer. The team was out of focus, low in energy and had an anemic performance that drew the ire of Acaylar.

The head coach, who steered the Nationals to a bronze medal finish in the 1991 SEA Games, even cut the morning drills short and gave his team a terrible tongue-lashing.

He blew his top especially in the opening set when his wards squandered a 14-6 lead.    

The team promised to do better the following day.

But they failed to deliver.

 

Test of character

“Wala kaming receive, mabigat at pagod ang katawan namin. Gusto mo na lang umiyak sa frustration na ‘di kami manalo,” a member of the team said while walking back to the dormitory tired and frustrated.

The tune-up matches proved to be a struggle for the team but the adversities their facing, according to Acaylar will only make the squad stronger and hungrier.

This is the character Acaylar, a former national team member himself, wants to instill in his team.

“Ang gusto ko lang na ma-develop na character ng team ay ‘yung hindi sila maggi-give up sa mga nangyayari ngayon. Nandito kami sa training camp to learn more,” he said. “Of course sa skills marami talagang lapses especially sa receive, defense pattern, combination of set plays.”

“Ang tinitingnan ko sa kanila ngayon, ‘yung focus ko sa kanila ngayon ay maging smart sila sa game. Maging matalino sila sa paglalaro kasi not all the time naman kailangan power ang ginagamit,” said Acaylar. “Halos sumasabay sila doon pero definitely magaling ang blocking ng kalaban.”

The mentor wants his team to feel the thirst to win.

To crave for victory.

And the only way to quench it is to meet their goal of a podium finish in the SEA Games.

“This is a challenge for me and challenge for my team sa SEA Games and I hope matuto sila,” he said. “I hope na ‘yung urge nila na gustong lumaro, gustong manalo nandoon pa rin at di nawawala.”

The Nationals will take on Hwasung City Wednesday morning before breaking camp on Thursday.

The team will depart from Incheon Airport at 8:35 p.m. (Korea time) via PR 469 and will arrive at 11:55 p.m. (Manila time).

 

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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