In the eyes of Brazilian coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito, the teams he assembled for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship is already the best team in the country.
Speaking at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum yesterday, Souza de Brito defended his decision to exclude national team mainstays Alyssa Valdez and Julia Morado from what he branded as the “best team” he assembled.
Valdez and Morado were the surprise exclusions in the two national squads that are headed for the prestigious Asian tourney set in Nakhon Ratchasima from 1 to 7 October.
Initially, the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) stressed that their exclusion was due to their failure to attend the one-day tryout that was held in Subic during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
But when the federation started adding players who also failed to attend the selection process like Dindin Manabat, Rhea Dimaculangan, Tim Tiamzon, Kianna Dy and Dawn Macandili, it changed its statement, saying that the decision to exclude them was done by Souza de Brito, the national consultant who has been in the country for less than two months.
“I want fresh blood. I want fresh players, younger and taller players and, for sure, I will find out these in the future. For the time, I think you have the best team,” Souza de Brito, who was part of the Brazilian team that won the men’s indoor volleyball title in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, said.
Fans raised a howl over the exclusion of Valdez and Morado.
Aside from having stellar careers in the collegiate and commercial ranks, Valdez and Morado also have vast experience in the international arena as they has been campaigning since 2015 in which they suited up in the AVC Asian U21 Women’s Championship in Pasig City and 17th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Their last stint for the national squad was in 2019 when the country hosted the SEA Games.
The Nationals failed to land a medal, giving them enough reason to storm back in the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in 2022 and 19th Asian Games in China as well as the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia in 2023.
Unfortunately, their credentials were not enough to convince the Brazilian tactician.
“Everyone has access to social media but it’s not where I make my decisions. We, the coaches, are trying our best for the volleyball team,” Souza de Brito said.
National team head coach Odjie Mamon said they left everything to Souza de Brito.
“Like I said, it was out of my hands,” said Mamon, also a University of Santo Tomas mentor where Valdez played in high school.
“Choosing the players was out of my hands. So with regards to the selection, it’s done over. It’s done with. We are very hopeful with this team.”
With Valdez and Morado out, skipper Aby Maraño will embrace the task of leading the young pool together with other veterans like Manabat, Dy, Mylene Paat, Rhea Dimaculangan, Iris Tolenada and Majoy Baron.
Also in the pool are rising stars Eya Laure, Faith Nisperos, Mhicaela Belen, Imee Hernandez, Ivy Lacsina, Kamille Cal, Jennifer Nierva and Bernadett Pepito as well as Filipino-Americans Kalei Mau and MJ Phillips.