MANILA, Philippines – For veteran setter Jesse Lopez, players from the Philippine men’s volleyball team will need to play regularly in local leagues, such as Spikers Turf, to ensure their best performance in international competitions.
The 36-year-old playmaker, who recently announced his retirement from the national team, acknowledged that the absence of a men’s league in the country has affected the Philippine team’s goal of retaining or surpassing the historic silver medal in 2019 as it ranks 31st to fifth. Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Even though the players have been together for a long time, it is difficult to expect a good connection with each other if time is of the essence,” Lopez told Inquirer Sports.
(Even though we’ve been playing together for a long time, it’s hard to expect good connections from us even after a long cut in this epidemic.)
The Filipino Spikers missed the semifinals, lost to the advanced Cambodia, who won the bronze, and Thailand finished fifth in the classification round, beating Malaysia and Myanmar in Group B.
The veteran setter’s desire to retire is to create another local league for male volleyball players.
Only three national team players, Bryan Bagunas, Marck Espejo and Jau Umandal, have played in the league before the SEA Games because two former UAAP MVPs, Japan V.League and Umandal, had a brief stint in Bahrain earlier this year.
“Men’s volleyball players really have to play in regular leagues like Spykers Turf. To recover from our long cuts, ”Lopez said in Filipino language. “This is a training ground for us men’s national team players to improve our chemistry.”
Most members of the national team played in the 2021 AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in Thailand and in the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League last December for just one week.
Spykers Turf, which helped the national team finish its silver medal as a guest team in 2019, has yet to bring back the epidemic, although its organizer Sports Vision has already staged two open conferences in the Premier Volleyball League last year and from March to April.
UAAP also completed the first round of the women’s volleyball tournament in a closed circuit environment. The league will only host one beach volleyball tournament for male players starting this Friday. The NCAA will also reopen its women’s volleyball on June 11, but the men’s tournament was not part of its Season 97 event.
In an earlier interview with Inquirer Sports with Brian Bagunas and national team coach Dante Alinsunurin ahead of the SEA Games, the two emphasized the importance of regular leagues for the Philippine men’s volleyball program.
“It’s very sad because in the last SEA Games we started playing men’s volleyball but the epidemic closed the leagues again,” said Ota Miyoshi Amdani Bagunas.
(It is unfortunate that the epidemic has shut down the men’s league because we have already begun to raise our level of play in the SEA Games (2019).)
Alinsurin agrees: “It’s just that men’s volleyball really needs to be tougher (a tough program of men’s volleyball requires an uninterrupted league).”
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