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Lontoc offers helping hand

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If the national women’s volleyball team needs help, Emil Lontoc is just a call away.

The seasoned mentor yesterday said he would lend his helping hand to the national women’s team in its bid to reclaim the glory in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this November.

Lontoc is thrilled to see the revival of the squad.

In fact, he was the lead assistant of Russian coach Stanislav Lugailo when the Filipina volleybelles clinched the gold medal in the Singapore SEA Games in 1993.

Since then, he focused on the men’s team of University of Santo Tomas (UST) and women’s team of Lyceum of the Philippines University. His last stint was with Petron in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix in 2019.

Now, with a Brazilian coach on board, Lontoc couldn’t help but offer his expertise to the national team program.

“If they say that I am invited to help, I will help in any way I can for the national team,” said Lontoc, who is still looking fit at 70 years old.

“I don’t want to give my specific insights on the team until I see what are they capable of on the floor.”

Lontoc said a lot of things happened since he last handled the national squad.

“The pace of volleyball had become so fast that tuneup matches and scrimmages are now a must,” he said.

“The reality in SEA Games volleyball today is that building a strong team won’t cut it unless you have the right matchup.”

Aside from Jorge Edson Souza de Brito of Brazil, comprising the team are head coach Odjie Mamon and assistant coaches Tai Bundit of Thailand and Grace Antigua.

Curiously, Mamon is a former protégé of Lontoc at UST who led the country to the bronze medal in the 2001 and 2003 biennial meets.

“The federation knows that the coaches they picked are high caliber. They can bring the team to a higher level,” he said, adding that he is hopeful that stars like Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño and Eya Laure will respond positively to the Brazilian style of coaching.

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