Giants invade Men’s NT pool

The national men’s volleyball team is dead serious about seeking vengeance.

After coming up with a lowly sixth place finish in the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the men’s national team made another strong recruiting coup when it tapped fresh talents that possess deadly brew of height, skills, and athleticism.

Speaking with Volleyverse, head coach Sammy Acaylar revealed that players from different parts of the country were invited to complete the 25-man training pool in preparation for the next edition of the biennial meet in the Philippines.

Acaylar, who steered the Filipinos to a bronze medal finish in the prestigious tourney back in 1991, said height served as a major factor in selecting new members of the national pool as he will put a special premium on net and floor defense.

With that, he confirmed that six six-footers have formally expressed their willingness to serve the country when they showed up when the training of the Nationals resumed Monday morning at the Arellano School of Law Gym in Pasay City.

6-foot-5 Raje Hizon of Mapua University headlines the list of newcomers along with fellow Malayan Anjo Pertierra, National College of Business and Arts’ Ferdan Guanzon, and Ronniel Rosales of Perpetual — who are all 6-foot-3 tall.

Joining these giants are 6-foot-2 Edward Camposano from University of the East and Justin Yturralde, a 6’0 tall setter.

“They are the first ones who showed interest in serving the country through volleyball.”

They will mix it up with the intact roster of the national squad which campaigned in the recent SEA Games led by skipper John Vic De Guzman together with grizzled veterans in Reyson Fuentes, Alnakran Abdilla, and Mark Gil Alfafara.

National University (NU) star Bryan Bagunas, Geuel Asia, Relan Taneo, Alden Dave Cabaron, Bonjomar Castel, Herschel Ramos, Jack Kalingking, and Peter Quiel will still be there including reserves John Kenneth Sarcena and Greg Dolor.

Other talents by the likes of Far Eastern University’s John Paul Bugaoan as well as Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura of NU should’ve also received an invitation to join the pool including players from the top club and University teams, which Acaylar refused to name.

“We really have to tap young and tall players who are fully committed to serve their motherland.”

More exposures

Aside from forming a rock-solid lineup, the national squad is also looking to have more international exposures.

In the Malaysia edition of SEA Games, Acaylar admitted that lack of preparation and experience spelled their doom.

The men’s national team was only formed few months before the 2017 SEA Games.

Last July, the Nationals went under the microscope when they ruled a pocket tournament over the national team of Macau, University of Perpetual Help, and the selection team of Imus, Cavite before heading to a grueling 12-day training camp in Suwon, South Korea where they went up against Korea’s best University and club teams on the following month.

This time, they are hoping to bring the nuggets of wisdom and much-needed international exposure before they embark on a quest to bring back the lost pride and glory of the country in the international stage.

“This 2018, our plan is to compete in two international competitions and train abroad – either Japan or a European country. Hopefully, by 2019, we could have more international exposures by joining competitions and training abroad.”