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Spikers still work in progress



The national men’s volleyball team will get back to work as soon as they get home from a respectable campaign in the AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

Head coach Dante Alinsunurin said they will go back to training to solve their service and reception woes in preparation for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May.

The national spikers had a good run in the prestigious continental meet.

Despite the absence of prized spikers Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, Rebisco still fared creditably well as it pushed Diamond Food Saraburi Thailand to the limit before dropping a five-set heartbreaker in the preliminaries.

Then, they pulled off a 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11 victory over CEB Sports Club of Sri Lanka in the classification match to finish at ninth place late Wednesday at the Terminal 21 competition hall.

All in all, their performance was way before than their female counterparts, who finished the tourney at the bottom of the seven-team field despite the absence of powerhouse teams from China, South Korea and Japan.

Still, Alinsunurin said their journey had just begun.

“In general, we have to start right away and focus on our efficiency rate on the on service and reception because that was what we’re lacking during the competition,” Alinsunurin said.

“When we get back, I already requested for us to start practicing again and if we’re lucky, we would be included in the Champions League made by the PNVF (Philippine National Volleyball Federation) as exhibition games because it’s important to play immediately because it’s been so long and hopefully, we could prepare for the SEA Games next year.”

Alinsunurin said their performance in the Asian Club gave them the idea that everybody is capable of contributing.

Joshua Umandal, for one, had been a revelation as he stepped up in the absence of Espejo and Bagunas while Mark Gil Alfafara, Rex Intal and skipper Johnvic de Guzman provided significant contributions to the squad that claimed the silver medal in the previous Southeast Asian Games.

“The coaching staff had already discussed this and we agreed to let everybody play and maximize them and not rely on our first six players,” Alinsunurin said.

“It was hard to adjust day-to-day. It’s not just about playing but also improving our relationship with the players. We need to know what they’re feeling and what their physical conditions are so that we won’t encounter problems down the line. We were patient with them and we somehow managed to perform well in this Asian tournament.”