The Philippine men's national volleyball team is ready for a challenge as they prepare to compete against continental opponents in the 2021 Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship, which kicks off on Friday in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

/ 9 October 2021

The national team, carrying the Team Rebisco name for the tournament, is bracketed with Iran’s Foolad SIrjan, Qatar’s Al-Arabi, Uzbekistan’s AGMK, and Thailand’s Diamond Food.

“We came here for exposure and experience. Of course, we want to win, but our opponents are no pushovers,” Team captain John Vic De Guzman said. “But we need to compete against them to get better.”

The team is hoping to repeat its historic run in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games where it copped a silver medal.

De Guzman expressed their excitement at the opportunity to represent the Philippines on an international stage again, as it will be the first time they have competed since their success at the SEA Games.

“We’re happy to be playing again, but of course, we cannot say if we can go 100 percent because the pandemic stopped sports back home,” he said. “And of course, the risk of getting the virus is there.”

Rebisco will be missing star spikers Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are playing in the Japan V. League. 

The men’s team will be led by Rex Intal, Mark Alfafara, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, Josh Retamar, and Jao Umandal.

Ysay Marasigan, who competed in the 2015 SEA Games, will return to represent the country, while Nico Almendras, Manuel Sumanguid, and JP Bugaoan will make their senior team debuts.

To advance to the semifinals, Philippines need to make it to the top two of the pool.

The tournament winner will earn a spot in the FIVB World Club Volleyball Championships, which will be held in Turkey from December 15 to December 19.