Three Filipino superstars return to the V.League Taraflex tomorrow to start its 2021-22 season.
Bryan Bagunas, in his first match since suffering an MCL injury in his right knee last March, will start the day for the Filipino imports. His Oita Miyoshi battles last season’s seventh-placers Sakai at Nippon Steel Sakai Arena at 12:00 PM (Philippine time).
The 6-foot-5 product of National University will have a new import partner, with Venezuelan Emerson Rodriguez replacing Curtis Stockton.
The Weisse Adler look to turn their luck around after a 3-33 finish last season, dead last in the league.
Coinciding with Oita Miyoshi’s game will be Marck Espejo’s comeback in Japan after stints with Visakha (Thailand) and Bani Jamra (Bahrain).
The Ateneo alum will now play for FC Tokyo, alongside new import Jonas Kvalen from Norway.
FC Tokyo will face a tall order to start its year, facing defending champion Suntory at the Sky Arena in Osaka.
However, 7-foot-2 giant Dmitry Muserskiy will not be around for the Sunbirds this time. Still, new imports in Chinese middle blocker Shikun Peng and Hungarian opposite spiker Árpád Baróti will surely fill the hole.
Espejo already played in Japan back in 2018 with the Weisse Adler. Unfortunately, though, saw his season cut short by a shoulder injury.
Now, a more mature Espejo is back and will try to carry FC Tokyo to a better standing after an 8-27 record last season. It finished just eighth place in the 10-team field.
Meanwhile, Jaja Santiago and her Saitama will debut at 1:00 PM (Philippine time).
Coming off the 2021 V Cup championship, Ageo Medics will try to continue their good rhythm heading into this season. They kick off with a bout against home squad Okayama at Kasaoka General Gymnasium.
Off from the team was Canadian Shainah Joseph, who played for Sta. Lucia before in Philippine Superliga. Brazilian opposite hitter Lorenne Teixeira takes her place for Saitama.
Still with the team are homegrown superstars Mami Uchiseto, Yukas Sato, Yuri Yoshino, and Kyoko Aoyagi as they look to reach the podium of the V.League tournament after missing out last year at fifth place. They nabbed bronze in 2019.
The men’s tournament will be under a four-round round-robin format. It is expected to finish by April 2022.
On the other hand, the women’s tourney will only have a three-round round-robin format, with two more teams than their men’s counterpart. It is also expected to finish by April 2022.
Games will take place on weekends only, with a month-long break from December to January.