Meet the BAE of Philippine volleyball
Mark Escarlote on Jul 18, 2019 12:19 PM
Bryan Bagunas, Ranran Abdilla and Marck Espejo, the BAE of the Philippine men's volleyball national team.
“May bago ng boyband.”
Philippine men’s volleyball team star Marck Espejo drew good laugh from his buddies Ranran Abdilla and Bryan Bagunas when asked about their reactions when fans tagged the trio with a playful name.
The Nationals made the headlines after their breakthrough podium finish in the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Volleyball Championships in Sisaket a couple of weeks back.
But it was the trio of Bagunas, Abdilla and Espejo who took the spotlight.
The trio logged in incredible numbers in the tournament and capped it off with a grander performance in the PHI’s come-from-behind five-set win over Saraburi-Thai Denmark in the battle for third.
Espejo had 35 points, Bagunas fired 24 while Abdilla, who was converted into a utility, got 19 markers.
Some witty fans tagged them as #BAE on social media, taking the first letter of their surnames to create a trend-worthy name for the Nationals’ big three.
“’Yung una kong naisip dun parang nagagawan na kami ng kalokohan so yung men’s team pala nabibigyan na ng pansin ng mga tao,” said Espejo, who was named 2nd Best Wing spiker in the tournament in his return to the national squad since making his debut in 2015.
“Hindi lang pala yung eyes ng mga tao sa women’s team yung suporta rin pala meron na sa men’s team,” added the five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, who played in the Japanese club league last year.
Bagunas recalled that it all started when the explosive trio took a picture after their game.
“Nag-picture tayong tatlo nun eh na ako, ikaw [Abdilla] saka si Marck, siguro kaya lumabas yung BAE na yun,” said Bagunas, the reigning UAAP MVP who is in his second stint with the national team.
Abdilla, who like Bagunas is on his second tour of duty for the Nationals after donning the tricolors in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, at first didn’t get what the acronym meant.
“Nu’ng una akala ko kung ano ‘yung BAE tapos nung binasa ko siya, nung inisip ko siya, ‘Ay oo nga ano’” he said. “Alam mo naman mga Filipino matatalino ‘pag dating sa mga ganyan. Diyan tayo magagaling hindi nawawalan ng kalokohan ‘yan.”
Though the tag may bring some sort of pressure on the trio to perform as the face of the team, they also treat it as a morale boost.
“Pampa-good vibes siya, sa amin naman lahat ng mga wingers namin pwede talaga eh,” said Abdilla.
Bagunas thought of it as an indication that they are slowly gaining a fan base after being overshadowed by the more popular women’s division.
“Nakikita na ng mga fans ang men’s volleyball team na parang umu-OK na rin yung sitwasyon ngayon. Yung mga players talagang nagkakaisa na, nagsasama-sama lalo na ngayong SEA Games na dito gagawin,” he said. “Sana suportahan talaga ng maraming mga fans ng volleyball. Sana hanggang sa dulo nandoon ang suporta nila. Sana suportahan na lang nila kung anong meron kami ngayon.”
Espejo saw their bronze medal finish as a stepping stone not only to earn the respect and support of the fans but to also give the nation something to believe in come the 2019 SEA Games that the country will host on November.
“Masarap sa feeling, tho yun nga kahit sabihin pa natin nung natalo kami nung first game nagsilabasan yung mga bashers pinapansin yung mga laro namin,” said Espejo. “Magandang lesson din sa kanila and sa amin na nakapag bronze kami at kung ano muna yung meron ang national team doon muna mag-focus wag muna hanapin yung wala.”
As for BAE, they’ll try to live up to the hype.
“Papanindigan na yan! Nandyan na yan eh!” said Bagunas.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles