The Philippine Men’s National Volleyball Team remains rock solid despite the absence of two main gunners in Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo for the coming 2021 AVC Men’s Club Championship.
After all, the core of the 30th Southeast Asian Games squad that won silver will still be in the team.
Leading the leftovers is captain John Vic De Guzman, together with Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar, and Joshua Umandal.
“Sobrang importante ‘yung ginagawa namin na tinutuloy pa rin ‘yung programa ng men’s volleyball,” said head coach Dante Alinsunurin on a Philippine Sportswriters Association forum, Tuesday, powered by Smart and Upstream Media as its official webcast partner.
“Kahit naman wala si Bryan at Marck tuloy tuloy pa rin ang ginagawa namin, yung pag angat ng team namin. Team effort naman lagi ang kailangan sa paglaro eh,” added Alinsunurin in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Completing the 14-man lineup for the coming tournament – taking place from October 8 to 15 in Thailand – are newcomers Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid, Ysay Marasigan, and JP Bugaoan.
But missing arguably the country’s top two players in Bagunas and Espejo due to commitments in their club teams in Japan leaves huge shoes to fill for the squad.
Oita’s Bagunas and Tokyo’s Espejo are currently in quarantine. They are expected to join their respective teams in a week’s time.
With this, Alinsunurin named three players he expects most to team up and fill the void left by the two superstars.
“Marami naman tayong naiwan dito, like si Mark Alfafara and Joshua Umandal. Mayroon tayong mga bagong pasok like Nico Almendras. ‘Yun siguro ‘yung mga magpupuno ng posisyon ni Marck and Bryan.”
With the Club Championships three weeks away, the veteran head tactician looks to prove to the competition that the Philippine team is deep and loaded.
“Kailangan lang namin magtrabaho talaga for this tournament and maipakita na mas maging malalim ‘yung bench namin pagdating sa international competition,” said Alinsunurin.
Rebisco will join Iran’s Foolad Sirjan, Qatar’s Al-Arabi, Thailand’s Diamond Food, and Uzbekistan’s AGMK in Pool B.