Back in 2018, then-21-year-old Marck Espejo made headlines when he signed with Japan V.League Division 1 club Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler.
But he saw his stint in Japan in 2018 cut short by a shoulder injury.
Espejo went on to continue his international playing career in Thailand with Visakha. He later moved to Bahrain to play for Bani Jamra last year.
Then just last week, his local club Cignal HD Spikers announced Espejo will return to the Japan V-League for another stint, this time with FC Tokyo.
And for the 6-foot-3 national team stalwart, the difference from the 2018 Marck to this year’s version would be huge.
“Siguro nung first time ko kasi, wala pa akong experience. So kung ano ‘yung nilalaro ko nung collegiate, parang dinala ko lang doon,” the now-24-year-old Espejo told The Game.
“Ito. since nakapag Thailand na ako at saka Bahrain na experience, alam ko na rin kung anong meron sa Japan. So may idea na rin talaga ako kung paano maglaro sa international league,” he added.
“Mas mature na player na ‘yung makikita niyo.”
But more than just providing good games for FC Tokyo — who struggled last season with an 8-27 record for eighth place — Espejo has something deeper to hold on to for motivation.
As he calls it, he has an “unfinished business” in Japan.
“Yes, meron talagang (unfinished business). Kasi nung first Japan ko nga, hindi ko natapos ‘yung season. So sobrang na-down ako noon, frustrated talaga ako,” shared the three-time Spikers’ Turf MVP.
“Kaya sabi ko once makabalik talaga ako sa Japan, ipapakita ko talaga ‘yung best ko. And ito na, nabigyan ulit ako ng chance na makabalik ng Japan. Hopefully, mas maayos na journey at makaiwas sa injuries.”
But despite his busy career abroad — he signed with Weisse Adler until May next year — Espejo does not forget his obligations to the flag and country.
Hence, his contract has a clause that will allow him to participate in national team activities here.
“Nasa contract naman na before SEA Games, uuwi talaga ako para maglaro sa Philippines. And ito ring dadating na AVC sa Japan inaayos na rin kung kaya kong makahabol, kaming dalawa ni Bryan (Bagunas), para makapaglaro,” bared Espejo.
“Ready naman ako lagi kapag ipatawag ako ng national team.”