Pinay volleybelles to skip Asian Games opening to prepare for Thailand
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 17, 2018 05:00 PM
For the first time in 36 years, the Philippine women’s volleyball team will finally see action in the Asian Games. (Photo courtesy of 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 on Facebook)
JAKARTA — For the first time in 36 years, the Philippine women’s volleyball team will finally see action in the 18th Asian Games.
The Nationals formally landed at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport here around noon Friday and immediately checked in at the Athletes Village at the Kemayoran area.
They will skip the opening-day parade to train in preparation for a blockbuster match against regional rival Thailand on Sunday.
“That’s the consensus of the team,” said Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. president Peter Cayco before sending off the Nationals to this prestigious 45-nation tournament.
“We need this training session because the game on Sunday (against Thailand) will be very tough. As much as possible, we want to make an impression that we also deserve to be here.”
The last time the Philippines saw action in the women’s volleyball competition of the Asian Games was in 1982.
They won the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in 1993 and emerged as a perennial podium-finisher together with rivals Thailand and Indonesia.
But after winning the bronze medal in the Manila SEA Games in 2005, darkness hounded Philippine volleyball as the country failed to send a women’s volleyball squad to the biennial regional tourney.
That spell was broken in 2015 when the LVPI sent a team to the Singapore SEA Games. It was followed by a couple of international tourneys before seeing action in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games last year.
This year, the team is reaching another milestone.
“Our players were not born yet the last time we played in the Asian Games. So making it here is already a major achievement for Philippine volleyball,” Cayco said.
After Thailand, the squad will face Japan on Tuesday, Hong Kong on Thursday, and Indonesia on Saturday.
Cayco said the goal is to make it to the quarterfinals.
“We want to make it to the quarterfinals,” said Cayco, adding that a victory over Hongkong will put them in the Round of Eight.
“If we beat Hongkong, we’ll get to the quarterfinals. I also think we can get past Indonesia.”
Skipper Aby Marano is at the helm together with Jaja Santiago, Alyssa Valdez, Dawn Macandili, Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes, Cha Cruz, Majoy Baron, Kianna Dy, Julia Morado, Maika Ortiz and the returning Dindin Manabat.
Shaq Delos Santos is the head coach with Kungfu Reyes and Brian Esquibel as assistants.