Bryan Bagunas suffered an MCL injury on his right knee last March 27 during Oita Myoshi’s match against Toray — a huge setback for the Filipino import who has been playing spectacularly in Japan V.League.
But on Wednesday, Bagunas shared on The Game that he expects to be back at 100 percent in one month. He will make a welcome addition to the men’s volleyball national team preparing for the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
“Sobrang masaya ako kapag naka-join na ulit ako sa national team kasi malaki ang pangarap ko para sa men’s volleyball sa Pilipinas.
“Nasimulan na namin, kailangan talagang mag-tuloy-tuloy,” added the National University product.
Head coach Dante Alinsunurin said the 6-foot-5 open spiker “will always be part of the team no matter what”, despite Bagunas missing the national team tryouts last April 29.
And the two-time UAAP Finals MVP took the news well, since Alinsunurin has been his coach since his days with the Bulldogs.
“Talagang goosebumps sa akin kasi nandoon talaga ‘yung tiwala ng coaching staff sa akin.
“Talagang pinagkakatiwalaan nila ako kahit injured ako,” said Bagunas, who was part of the national team who won silver in the 2019 SEA Games.
With a year of experience in Japan — one of the top countries in volleyball — the Batangas City native will bring plenty of experience to the Philippine team.
In the V.League, Bagunas raised the country’s flag well. He placed 14th in scoring with 448 points, plus an efficient 52.2 percent attacking rate, good for ninth.
“‘Yung Japan league kasi more on high class na talaga kasi nandoon na yung mga players na naglalaro sa Olympics. Sobrang advanced na talaga ng volleyball doon ang daming matututunan na pwedeng i-apply dito sa Pilipinas.”
Having experienced top-notch volleyball, the Filipino import encourages other local volleyball players to try their luck overseas.
Aside from Bagunas, Ateneo phenom Marck Espejo has also played abroad, having stints in Japan, Thailand, and Bahrain.
“Sobrang [ine-encourage] ko, lalo na nga sa teammates ko sa national team na kapag may opportunities, sinasabi ko i-grab nila. Kasi sobrang laking bagay noon para dalhin dito sa Pilipinas para umangat talaga ‘yung men’s volleyball team.”