Rebisco Philippines left for Nakhon Ratchasima on Wednesday night to compete in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship slated to open on Friday.
Handled by coach Dante Alinsunurin, the continental club competition will be the national team’s first international joust since the historic silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
The men’s team is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Rebisco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Asics.
Even without aces Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are both playing for Tokyo and Oita Miyoshi, respectively, in the V.League, and the tremendous challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rebisco remains upbeat with the deep talent pool that Alinsunurin built.
“We always focus on team effort in every game,” Alinsunurin said. “It is very important for us to compete to sustain the gains of our men’s volleyball program.”
Rebisco is bracketed in Pool A, which consists of Iran’s Foolad Sirjan, Qatar’s Al-Arabi, Thailand’s Diamond Food, and Uzbekistan’s AGMK.
John Vic De Guzman will reprise his role as team captain, while Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar, and Jao Umandal are returning to the national team.
Ysay Marasigan, who played in the 2015 SEA Games, is back to represent the country, while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid, and JP Bugaoan are making their senior debut.
The squad recently concluded its bubble training in Lipa City.
In Pool B are Thailand’s Nakhon Ratchasima QminC, Sri Lanka’s CEB, Kazakhstan’s Burevestnic Almaty, Kuwait’s Kazma, and Iraq’s South Gas.
The two teams in each pool after the preliminaries will make the semifinals.
The winner of the week-long tournament will qualify for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in a venue to be announced later.
Unfortunately for the Philippines’ men and women squads, they are not expected to meet up in Nakhon Ratchasima because of health protocols.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation sent two teams — Rebisco and Choco Mucho — in the women’s club contest that concludes on Thursday.