With Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo plying their trades in Japan, the national men’s volleyball team found a new hero in Joshua Umandal.
Umandal revealed that Bagunas handed him the keys to their offense before they competed in the AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand last week.
With Umandal at the attack zone, the Nationals came up with thrilling performances against the best clubs in Asia in the prestigious tourney that staked a ticket to the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship in December.
The Nationals fought tooth and nail before bowing to a powerhouse Diamond Food of Thailand in five sets to gain momentum the rest of the tournament.
They finally won in the classification match over CEB Sports Club of Sri Lanka, 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11, with Umandal firing a game-high 28 points.
“I might not be able to surpass them, helping the team has always been my goal every game,” the 22-year-old Umandal said in a television interview.
“In fact, before Bryan left for Japan and before we entered the Lipa bubble, we met. He told me that it’s now my show. I was already given the role by those who played before me so I must step up.”
Umandal’s teammate, Ish Polvorosa, said he may have a lot of struggles in the upcoming tournaments, but the future definitely belongs to him.
He said Umandal is in a perfect position to shine since Bagunas and Espejo are not around.
“For Jao, it was very challenging for him because he took the role of Bryan and Marck while they’re not here. He had to step up to the mat because the team needed a scorer and there were games where he was all by himself,” Polvorosa said.
“I think I can say that he did his absolute best and he did very well. I think come the next couple of years, he will be much more lethal inside the court.” IVAN SUING