After a 10-year hiatus, the Philippines makes a comeback in volleyball in this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games but fell short of their modest target to at least make it into the final four.
Women’s volleyball team tries to block the ball in their match against Malaysia. Photo: Gavin Lee / SINGSOC
Both the men and women teams ended their campaign having identical results with 1-2 win-loss card. The young and inexperienced national squads prove to be no match for stronger and dominant teams like Thailand and Vietnam. Despite their losses, the coaches and players remain optimistic that they can still make it into the volleyball international scene.
Coach Oliver Allan Almadro said that what is important is that they now know how to prepare for big volleyball events next time. “All our players are very young. With the right program, we will be back,” he said. Spiker Marck Espejo, for example, is only 18 years old playing in his very first SEA Games but is already playing well, scoring 17 points during their game against defending champion Thailand.
Volleyball superstars Alyssa Valdez and Rachel Anne Daquis, on the other hand, expressed that the team needs more international exposures like the SEA Games to remain competitive. Valdez said that playing against national teams from other countries would boost their confidence while Daquis said a stringent training program is also needed. “We may have not beaten top-caliber teams (now), but we are getting there,” she added.
When asked how well the team performed, Coach Roger Gorayeb and Almadro said that given the circumstances, the teams played quality volleyball. According to Gorayeb, the women’s team was formed only two weeks prior to the SEA Games. “How I wish it (the team) was formed two years ago,” he said. On his part, Almadro said that "rest assured, we gave our best."
Men’s volleyball team, with key player Marck Espejo #15, during a time-out huddle. Photo: Von Samonte / SINGSOC
So what is next for the Philippine volleyball team after the SEA Games?
Team Philippines is hoping that the overwhelming support for the sport will continue and that they may gain more experience from international events. In sport, “it’s not instant, it’s not magic,” according to Almadro. Apart from hard-work, patience, and prayers, he said that unity in sports for the Philippines would be the key for the country to reclaim volleyball glory.
Filipino supporters rallying behind Team Philippines. Photo: Soon Ching Voon / SINGSOC
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.