After what seemed to be an eternity of silence and mystery regarding the formation of the Philippine men’s volleyball team to the upcoming Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship which will be held on our shores this coming April 8-16, the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) through its Secretary General Rustico “Otie” Camangian informed Yahoo! Sports Philippines of the most recent developments in this front.
“We’ve been very busy in the preparations for the tournament,” Camangian said in a phone conversation with me a few days back. “We’ve decided to split the labor and I’m now handling the preparations of the teams.”
This includes the formation of the much awaited national women’s team that will be seeing action in the distaff version of this event on April 17-24 in Nakhompathom, Thailand. I’m still collating the data on the women’s squad and will write about it here shortly.
The naming of former National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs mentor and present Head Coach of reigning Philippine Super Liga (PSL) men’s division titlists PLDT MyDSL Francis Vicente came as no surprise to many. Vicente was taking the lead in the three-day try-out process and was very vocal about who he’d want to have on the team, if he were selected as the Head Coach. Now he’s got the job and all that needs to happen is to trim the current pool of thirty aspirants to the final line-up of ten in time for the championship.
“This is a great group of players to chose from,” Vicente disclosed during the first phase of the try-outs conducted at the San Juan Arena last January 15th. “Nandito na halos lahat ng talagang magagaling. Maghahanap na lang tayo dito nang nakakagulat.”
Vicente and his phalanx of coaches may have stumbled upon a few diamonds in the rough as well as perhaps unlocked a few talents for those they suggested to play out of position. But in essence, the pool has been trimmed down and from the following thirty names, the new national team will emerge (in alphabetical order):
Alnakran Abdilla 6’2” O-PAF
Geuel Asia 5’10” S-DLSU
Red Christensen 6’2” U-DLSU
Dexter Clamor 5’10” S-UPHSD/Systema
Jan Paul Doloiras 5’5” L-UST/PLDT MyDSL
Marck Espejo 6’2” O-AdMU
Ian Fernandez 5’11” S-UST/Giligan’s
Kheeno Franco 6’1” M-EARIST/PLDT MyDSL
Reyson Fuentes 6’4” S-NU
Ron Jay Galang 6’2” O-AdU/PLDT MyDSL
Richard Gomez 6’2” O-PUP/PLDT MyDSL
Rocky Honrade 6’4” M-SBC/Systema
Rhenze Hu 5’7” L-CSB/Systema
Rodolfo Labrador 6’1” M-FEU/PAF
Gilbert Longavela 5’8” L-AdU/PLDT MyDSL
Jessie Lopez 5’9” S-FEU/PAF
Dominico Lucindo 6’0” O-UP
Jeffrey Malabanan 6’1” U-RTU/PAF
Ace Mandani 6’2” M-UE
Vincent Mangulabnan 5’8” S-NU
Howard Mojica 6’0” O-EAC
Raffy Mosuelo 5’6” L-PAF
Jan Berlin Paglinawan 6’2” U-NU
Samuel Paquiz 6’4” U-UP
AJ Pareja 6’4” M-AdMU/Systema
Henry Pecaña 6’0” U-UST/PLDT MyDSL
Jayson Ramos 6’3” M-UST/PLDT MyDSL
Julius Sioson 5’8” L-UST/Giligan’s
JP Torres 6’4” O-UST/Giligan’s
Peter Den Mar Torres 6’3” M-NU
From this list trimmed down from nearly a hundred, there are a bunch of big names that have been cut and it appears the coaching staff had quite a few sleepless nights in determining the final thirty members.
Iconic names like John Depante, Pitrus de Ocampo, Chris Macasaet, PJ Rojas and Edjet Mabbayad are noticeably absent, while top-notch youngsters such as Mark Gil Alfafara, John Vic de Guzman and Rueben Inaudito have also been stricken from the list. It will even be a more difficult task in bringing the pool down to the final ten names—the other two spots in the line-up will be reserved for the imports, allegedly a setter and a quicker from Korea as the initial tournament after all is a club championship.
Camangian for his part understands that while it may be quite a challenge to even attain a podium finish in this prestigious event, he believes that this is all part of the new birth pains Philippine volleyball has to undergo to regain its foothold in the regional scene.
“We’ve been out of the loop for a long time,” the former national skipper explained during the first day of try-outs. “But we can only get better from this experience and I hope the Filipino fans come out and support the team every step of the way.”
The final roster will look to have a blend of wily veterans and upstart young guns, so it will be interesting to see this evolution.
One thing’s for sure: the PVF’s interim leadership has slowly taken the Philippine’s participation in international volleyball to a level we haven’t seen in a while and this first sortie is surely a huge leap forward out of the doldrums. Who knows, right? The Power Pinoys might even manage to pull off a few upsets along the way. Having the homecourt edge might just help the squad and the program advance even further in a shorter amount of time.
I wouldn’t want to be in Coach Francis’ shoes now, though. He’s got a lot of very tough cuts to make very soon.
Let’s see how this transpires, but let’s also support the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s attempt at a major uprising. It all has to start somewhere, and what better place than on home soil?
By: Follow Noel Zarate on Twitter (@NoelZarate) and email email@example.com