NT wows Thai coach

KUALA LUMPUR – As the Philippine national women’s volleyball team checks out of this beautiful Malaysian capital Monday morning, a prolific Thai coach gave it a fitting send-off, something to inspire it as it continues its journey to international prominence.

Thailand head coach Danai Sriwatcharamethakul told a couple of journalists that he was greatly impressed with the improvement of the Philippines.

Danai said unlike before that there were only two or three good players, the Philippines had improved tremendously, making him believe that it will blossom into a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

After seeing the Philippines competes in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and in its first match in the 29th Southeast Asian Games, Danai believes that the Philippine will coast all the way to the finals.

He was so optimistic over his forecast that he went to the extent of greeting the Philippines’ coaching staff at the elevator: See you in the finals!

“Your team had improved tremendously. Your system is also very good.”

He added that unlike before when only one or two players were playing consistently, the Filipinos are now working as a solid unit while showing a lot of promises on defense.

“Before, I only see one or two players. But now, everyone is good, especially on defense with your tall blockers and good libero.”

After coasting to a straight-set victory over Malaysia, disaster struck and the Filipinos succumbed to Vietnam, pushing them to a tough semifinal duel against 12-time champion Thailand in the semifinals.

The Nationals lost followed by another massive collapse to Vietnam in the bronze medal match to miss their goal of pulling off a podium finish.

“You see, your team lost to Vietnam because you lack international experience.”

“Your team has to continue joining international tournaments to be able to compete at a higher level.”

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Long process

Building a solid national team isn’t an overnight process.

Silver medalist Indonesians, for instance, started its program in 2008 when their best and brightest young players competed in the AVC Asian Youth Girls Championship in Manila.

The Philippines fielded a team in that tournament with Francis Vicente, Ronald Dulay and Kungfu Reyes in the coaching staff while Kim Fajardo, Alyssa Valdez, Dindin Santiago, Denden Lazaro and, to some extent, Aby Marano part of the team.

Dulay said the Indonesians were so happy with their silver medal finish.

“Their silver medal in nine years in the making.”

“We already played against those players nine years ago. But they kept the core of the team while our players went on their separate ways. Had we decided to keep the team together with a lot of foreign exposure, it could have been a different story.”

Those in the know said top volleyball officials are tipped to keep the team together.

Although the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. has yet to come up with a formal position on the future of the team, sources said the team will continue to train regularly and will invite some of the country’s brightest young players, including foreign-bred players like MJ Philips and Rebecca Rivera, to increase the pool to around 25 to 30.

Top volleyball patron Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano also agreed to the two-year program, which will culminate in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host in 2019.

“Just keep on fight and keep on dreaming. We will work hard to achieve this goal in 2019 (SEA Games).”

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