The past year was nothing but magical for the Philippine Men’s National Volleyball Team.
Bannered by the most outstanding talents in the country today in Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, the PMNVT rose up from the cellar of Philippine sports and gained massive success in 2019.
The Dante Alinsunurin-led squad made history in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, where they celebrated a historic silver medal finish to end the country’s 28-year medal drought.
But none of that would be possible without the help of the country’s first-ever league dedicated to men’s volleyball.
“Kahit papaano, nare-recognize na nakakatulong talaga ‘yung Spikers’ Turf. Alam mo ‘yung Spikers’ Turf was really meant para ma-build ‘yang national team,” said Spikers’ Turf tournament director Mozzy Ravena in Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ 2OT, presented by SMART and supported by Team Phenom PH.
“In fact, when we opened, Sir Peter [Cayco] said na ‘yun nga, na-mention na it’s really the way of forming national team. So ayun, malaking factor ‘yun na gusto naming magka-national team and talagang nagka-totoo naman ‘diba?”
True enough, the league showed its dedication to the National team by inserting the squad as a guest team in the Reinforced Conference, where the Nationals won a total of seven games in 11 outings.
It was the perfect head start for Alinsunurin and the team, since they had not yet played as a team prior to that tournament.
The league also opened many opportunities for aspiring players. It was during the 2019 season that National University’s Joshua Retamar, who became an integral part of the National team’s success in the biennial meet, showed flashes of the brilliance that eventually earned him an invite in the 20-man pool, replacing Kim Dayandante.
“Nakita natin in the beginning, it’s really getting to know kung ano ba talaga materyales natin. Kasi kapag sumali ‘yung mga teams, minsan ‘yung ibang players, hindi mo na nakikita eh, lalo na ‘pag wala na sa mga liga na we usually see. Unti-unti nakilala mo kung sino mga pwede,” explained Ravena.
“We were able to see, siguro si coach Dante rin for himself kung sino ‘yung mga materyales na pwede niya.”
With the men’s squad gaining more and more traction, Ravena vows that the league will remain committed in helping the Nationals. The program — and men’s volleyball — can continue to look forward and up for the future.