KUALA LUMPUR: The Philippines takes the first major step to redemption when it battles Vietnam in the men’s volleyball competition of the 29th Southeast Asian Games Monday at the MITEC Hall 11 here.
Game time is at 5 p.m. with the Nationals on a mission to come up with a podium finish to avenge their forgettable sixth-place finish in the previous edition of the biennial meet Singapore two years ago.
Head coach Sammy Acaylar said they are all pumped up and ready to go after spending the past few months training and competing against foreign teams.
The squad had a 15-day training in Suwon City in South Korea and participated in a pocket tournament against the Macau national team, giving it a preview of what to expect in this prestigious 11-nation tournament.
“We’ve been working hard for the past few months and it’s now time for us to apply everything that we learned,” said Acaylar, who was part of the coaching staff when the women’s national team clinched the gold medal in the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore.
But the road to glory will never be easy.
Vietnam, the silver medalist in the previous SEA Games, will surely be a tough nut to crack due to its power, quickness and athleticism.
After the Vietnamese, the Filipinos will tackle the Indonesians on Wednesday and Timor Leste on Friday before the semifinals on Saturday and the finals on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Philippine women’s team will see action on Thursday against Malaysia and Friday against Vietnam.
Head coach Francis Vicente also tapped prized libero Dawn Macandili to replace Denden Lazaro, who suffered a pulled hamstring injury a day before the squad left for a 17-day training in Japan last month.
Acaylar said he’s pinning his hopes on team captain Johnvic de Guzman as well as Ran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara, Herschel Ramos, Bryan Bagunas, Reyson Fuentes and playmaker Geuel Asia.