PHI men's volleyball team wraps training camp
Mark Escarlote on Aug 03, 2017 08:09 AM
The Philippine national men's volleyball team hopes to bring and use all the nuggets of knowledge it gained in a 13-day training camp in Korea in the Nationals' quest for a podium finish in the 29th Southeast Asian Games two weeks from now.
SUWON CITY, South Korea --- The Philippine national men’s volleyball team flies back to Manila Thursday night bringing back with them the knowledge, realization, character and confidence they gained here.
Looking to return to the podium in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that will open on August 19, the Sammy Acaylar-mentored team completed a grueling 13-day training camp, which included eight tune-up matches against three Korean teams.
The 23-man PHI delegation departs from Incheon Airport at 8:35 p.m. (Korea time) aboard flight PR 469 and is expected to land in Manila at 11:55 p.m. (PHI time).
The Nationals wrapped up their stint here with a 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 14-25, 21-25 decision against club team Hwasung City Wednesday.
Bannered by team captain John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara and Bryan Bagunas, the Filipinos gave an all-out performance despite winning only one set against the taller and stronger Hwasung City side.
That was enough for Acaylar, who the day before was disappointed with the team’s performance in a loss to the Korean U-19 team.
“At least uuwi tayo na maganda ang last performance natin. Kailangang maging challenge sa atin ang nangyari sa atin dito,” Acaylar told his wards after their last tune-up match held at Songsan High School volleyball gym in Hwasung City.
“Wala tayong panalo sa mga tune-up games natin, it’s given. But as I’ve said before mas gusto ko na matalo kayo ng matalo because nandoon ang challenge sa bawat isa,” he said. “Kasi kung mananalo kayo ng mananalo, magiging complacent na kayo. Para bang, ‘nanalo na kami. Satisfied na kami.’ Kasi sa akin wala akong satisfaction. Kahit nanalo na tayo, ang gusto ko pa rin ay paangat ng paangat na tayo.”
The mentor also stressed that the defeats they had against Hwasung City, the Korean Universiade team and the U-19 squad barely mattered as the lessons they learned were all worth it.
Stronger bond, better team
After their last tune-up match in Hwasung City, almost an hour’s drive from the Sungkyunkwan University where the team stayed for two weeks, the Nationals held a players-only meeting.
“Napag-usapan lang namin ‘yung mga naging performance namin, ano yung mga ginawa naming tama, ano ‘yung kulang at assessment namin,” said De Guzman.
Each of the players were given a chance to open up about what they see in the team, their team and self-assessment as well as suggestions to help the squad heading into the last two week stretch of preparations before they fly to Malaysia a day before the opening ceremony.
Other than the difficulty to win a match against the host teams in this Asian volleyball powerhouse, the Nationals also adversities.
Challenges that made their brotherhood stronger.
The squad lost hitter Greg Dolor from an injury just five days into the camp.
Dolor, a former Far Eastern University standout, sustained an open wound, pinky fracture on his left hand during a spiking drill. He was ruled out of the SEA Games after undergoing operation and was replaced by reserve Peter Quiel.
As a sign of unity, the squad decided not to send Dolor home early and letting him finish the camp.
The training program was also brutal for the squad with a scheduled morning jog, drills and specialization training in the morning and tune-up matches in the afternoon during Monday, Wednesday and Friday and weights and tune-up games in between those days.
The players given a respite Sunday where they spent their rest day visiting the Hwaseong Haenggung and shopping for ‘pasalubong’.
Trust the process
“Just trust my system and my program. At the end doon nyo na makikita kung ano ang resulta natin,” Acaylar continued in his post-game talk Wednesday. “Also, we need more encouragement sa isa’t isa that will make our team strong.”
Shorly after arriving from Manila, the players will only have a short time to spend with their family as Acaylar plans to keep the team together to fine-tune their game and further develop their chemistry.
“I have plans na ido-dorm ko sila para maging isang team,” said Acaylar, who steered the Nationals to a bronze medal finish in the biennial meet back in 1991. “They will practice morning and afternoon and they have to focus sa kung ano ang mga lapses namin in this training camp. For example, service receive, pattern defense and set play formation.”
Acaylar said that it was his intention to push the players to their limit in their training camp here by focusing on improving their condition and endurance. Their tune-up losses were expected.
“During our training in Manila, the reason bakit maganda ang laro nila doon kasi sa Manila ‘di kami nagwe-weights masyado. Konti lang ang conditioning namin at nandoon lang kami sa ball handling, specialization,” he said. “’Pagdating natin dito, like I said before, gusto ko silang ibagsak, i-focus sa conditioning at saka sa tune-up because I don’t like na dito sila magpi-peak tapos pagdating sa SEA Games, babagsak sila.”
In their most crucial stretch of preparation, the coaching staff will now focus on the technical side.
“Sa Manila wala na kami gaanong conditioning. More on ball handling, more on scrimmage, more on analyzing and more on set plays. Doon na lang kami magpa-pattern,” said Acaylar, whose wards will take on Vietnam, Indonesia and Timor Leste in the groups stage.
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