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2016 Asian WCC

Menta pinpoints solutions to elevating Philippine volleyball

In the short three weeks that Italian mentor Fabio Menta has taken over Foton Pilipinas’ program, drastic changes have been apparent.

The former mentor of the Cook Islands national team brought his eye for statistics, advanced game planning, and analysis of the reigning PSL Grand Champions.

Foton had played well at the start the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship but were stonewalled by Japanese club NEC Red Rockets in their quarterfinals match-up.

“I tweeted that we were going to school and Japan was our teacher and we need to learn our lesson,” the 54-year-old mentor told the media right after the loss.

Japan are a constant fixture in top international events, having made trips to the Olympics multiple times since the 80s. The NEC Red Rockets field numerous young players who have played for the Japanese National Team.

And the difference in level of play was staggering, as the Japanese lorded it over Foton, who even had the help of an American import.

Jaja-Santiago-of-Foton-over-Japans-Nami-Sagawa-and-6-Akari-Oumi Menta pinpoints solutions to elevating Philippine volleyball 2016 Asian WCC News PSL Volleyball  - philippine sports news

Jaja Santiago tries to squeeze past a point against the NEC Red Rockets (Photo by Roman Prospero)

With the renewed focus on volleyball locally, Menta was asked if he thought the Philippines could compete in Asia anytime in the near future.

The experienced international mentor answered by enumerating the changes that need to happen in local volleyball, starting with the ambiguous state of “professional” players.

“The Philippines doesn’t have a professional championship like Japan. Our players go to school or work in the morning and then they train maybe two hours not everyday.

“The system that I’m trying to bring here (with Foton) now has longer training. After this (AVC AWCC), we’re going to have a weightlifting program because we don’t have enough muscles to play against good teams. And we’re going to have more studying – on the whiteboard, positions, game plans,” he pointed out.

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He then emphasized the need for developing athletes who play volleyball.Japan-team-Capt-Akari-Oumi-over-Fotons-Jovelyn-Gonzaga_ Menta pinpoints solutions to elevating Philippine volleyball 2016 Asian WCC News PSL Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“If we have players on the court that are not only players but athletes. The Japanese players are athletes that play volleyball,” he began.

“We just have players, not too many athletes. In PSL, I think there’s only two or three athletes. I’m talking about muscular structure so that’s explosiveness and all the rest,” he clarified.

“In 20 days, of course, you cannot change the world. Looking at 10 years, I would say I’m much, much more optimistic.”

A young Chinese squad shocked the world in the 2016 Rio Olympics, beating hosts Brazil in the quarterfinals and bringing home the Gold over Serbia.

China have been diligent in supporting their athletes. The Italian mentor believes that with a similar system, the Philippines can challenge the giants of Asia and maybe, one day, reach great international heights.

“If we do that, we position ourselves behind China, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. We need to work well in a different system in order to be able to one day do well against the best,” Menta concluded.

Photos by Roman Prospero

Written By

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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