Two Aussie reinforcements boost PH hopes in Asian club volleyball championships

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A boodle fight welcomed the two Australian players reinforcing the Philippine team late Monday and national coach Francis Vicente liked what he saw in their first practice for the 2014 PLDT HOME Fibr Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr on April 8-16.

“They quickly jelled with the boys. Their first practice with the national pool was so smooth,” Vicente described his Aussie recruits Cedric Legrand and William Robert Lewis.

Actor-sportsman Richard Gomez, volleyball ambassador for the Philippine SuperLiga and a candidate for the new national volleyball team whose composition will be announced this month, described both players as “quick and are high-leapers.”

“They are fast and both have impressive verticals,” Gomez said after the national pool’s practice on Monday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Legrand and Williams were treated to roasted pig and other Filipino dishes and they gamely joined the members of the national pool and the coaching squad in the boodle fight. Both players arrived over the weekend.

Legrand stands 190 cms and has a jump that almost equals half of his body length (96 cms).

He has played with the Australian Indoor team in 2008 and saw action in Vietnam in 2010. He has numerous MVP awards in high school and was a consistent member of the Australian junior national team.

He also played in the Victorian Premier League, where he was the MVP last year.

Lewis, meanwhile, is expected to play setter. He stands 191 cms, and has a leap of 93 cms. He has also played in the Victorian League.

Hopes are high that the Philippines would advance to the next round after it landed in a ‘favorable group’ during the drawing of lots.

The Philippines avoided an early clash with Asian heavyweights when it was drawn with Iraq, Kuwait and Mongolia in Group A. Group B is made up of regional powerhouses Iran and Japan together with Lebanon and Vietnam while Group C features last year’s runner-up Qatar, Kazakhstan, Oman, Hong Kong and Turmekistan.

The taller Chinese, meanwhile, are expected to dominate United Arab Emirates, India, Papua New Guinea and Chinese Taipei in the Group D of this conclave that offers a slot to the International Volleyball Federation World Club Championships in Betim, Brazil in May.

Organizing Committee chairman Philip Ella Juico, who is also a former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman, believes the Philippine team will perform well in the meet.

“Our hopes are high with this team. The players are showing dedication at this very crucial moment of their training and it is a good sign,” Juico said.

The event is being co-organized with SportsCore, which has an extensive background in organizing international events.

The 2014 PLDT HOME Fibr Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship will be streamed live through TVolution on PLDT HOME Fibr. All games by the Philippine Team will also be televised live on TV5, the official broadcast partner of the AMCC.

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