Just like all national teams, the Philippine Beach Volleyball squad had their share of Zoom workouts in the past year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But just last month, the pool got their chance to finally be back in the sand court with a training bubble in Ilocos Norte in preparation for the 2021 AVC Continental Cup, which will commence tomorrow, Friday, in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.
The Philippines will still be bannered by the famed SiPons duo of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons.
Meanwhile, Team B will be composed of familiar face Dij Rodriguez and a young gun in Babylove Barbon.
In the Continental Cup, the squad has to pull some massive upsets to reach the final round and have a chance for the one ticket available to the Olympics.
That’s why the squad will enter the tourney with a do-or-die mentality.
“In this setup, it’s a do or die game because one win, you’re in the final, and one loss, you’re out,” Rondina said.
“This is a rare opportunity for us, facing very strong teams because we’ve been battling teams in the Southeast Asian regions.”
They’re not just playing some foreign countries though, as the Philippines will clash with powerhouse teams of Japan and New Zealand in the semifinal round where the top two squads will advance to the final.
“I am so happy and excited that we’ll be playing against foreign teams kasi yun talaga ang nilu-look forward namin, ‘yung magkaroon kami ng exposure outside the country.”
Despite the tall task ahead of them, Pons is confident with the team’s preparation heading to their first international tourney since winning bronze in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Pons credited the PNVF-organized bubble for the team’s top-tier condition going to Thailand.
“Sobrang laking tulong na nakapagbubble training kami despite the pandemic but even before the bubble naman, tuloy tuloy na yung conditioning namin para if ever na magcourt na kami, ready kami,” said the 24-year-old product of FEU.
“Also yung mind setting, before pa lang nakaset na talaga ‘yung mind namin sa goal namin para ma-remind kami eveyrday kung para saan ‘yung ginagawa namin.”