History beckons for these brave PH spikers

December 09, 2019
THE Philippine Blu Girls
THE Philippine Blu Girls, coaches and officials gather for a souvenir shot with their patron, sportsman-businessman Jean Henri Lhuillier, shortly after winning the SEA Games women’s softball crown for the 10th time at The Villages in Clark, Pampanga. They won the title unbeaten. But their male counterparts were not as lucky as they lost to Singapore and settled for the silver medal.

THE euphoria has not died down after the Philippines ended Thailand’s reign in the Southeast Asian Games men’s volleyball with an epic 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15 victory Sunday night.

After all the celebration, the Filipinos, knowing that the job is not yet done, yesterday immediately buckled down to work as they try to capture the country’s first gold medal in a sport which is trying to get an equal billing from the more popular female side. .

“Yung nangyari ngayon, history na. Tomorrow iba na,” said Marck Espejo, who forms the team’s deadly 1-2 offensive punch with Bryan Bagunas. 

“Sure na silver na kami pero kailangan naming mag-trabaho para sa darating na championship. Nandito na kami, hindi na namin bibitawan ito para makuha ang goal namin,” said national coach Dante Alinsunurin.

The Philippines hopes to hurdle its last obstacle to fulfill its ultimate goal against Indonesia - the team that  dealt its lone loss in the tournament - at 6 p.m. today before an expected jampacked crowd at the Philsports Arena.

Playing in a full house audience was just a dream before for the national men’s volleyball team. 

“Sabi nga namin nung first game, meron na tayong dumagdag na 12 persons. Second game, nanalo tayo, meron tayong 13 persons. Sabi ko tuluy-tuloy lang tayo, malay niyo sa third game natin, magiging 20 na yan. Yun lang lagi ginagawa namin,” said Alinsunurin with a laugh. 

“Pero yun nga, nagpapasalamat kami sa mga tao na sumusuporta samin at nanood ngayon dito. Siyempre marami ring nanood sa TV at sa mga cellphone,” he added.

Beating one of the continental powerhouses in the SEA Games is something that the Filipinos will relish about for the years to come.

“Sobrang nakakaproud kasi ilang years na sila nagcha-champion tapos tinalo namin sila,” said Bagunas, who is in his second SEA Games stint. “Doon lumabas yung skills ng bawat isa. Talagang sobrang saya hindi namin ma-explain yung saya namin.”

The home team will leave everything on the floor to rebound from last Friday’s 23-25, 30-32, 20-25 loss to the Indonesians.

“Nagulat kami sa laro ng Indonesia. Hindi naman namin aakalain na magiging ganoon ang sistema ng paglalaro nila,” said Alinsunurin. “Basta ang importante, yung adjustment ng mga player namin at yung communication.”

Power-hitting Rivan Nurmulki, Doni Haryonto and animated middle hitter Putu Randu will be the players to watch out for the Indonesians.

Definitely, Alinsunurin has a lot of tricks left up his sleeves to cap one of the inspiring stories in the country’s 30th SEA Games campaign.

“Kailangang maging ready at magtiwala sa game plan ni coach,” said middle blocker Rex Intal, who was Alinsunurin’s “magic sub” in the second set that somehow became the turning point of the match.