PSC promotes ‘Spike For Peace’
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - PSC chairman Richie Garcia said yesterday the government agency for sports is going all-out to promote the International Invitational Beach Volleyball Exhibition called “Spike For Peace” with 14 teams from 11 countries battling for the $8,000 first prize on 300 cubic meters of fine sand at the PhilSports Arena starting today until Thursday.

The Philippines is represented by the Shakey’s V-League pair of 5-11 Alexa Micek, 24, of North Carolina State and 5-9 Charo Soriano, 30, of Ateneo and the Philippine SuperLiga tandem of 5-7 1/2 Danika Gendruali, 24, of Southwestern University and 5-5 Norie Diaz, 23, of Perpetual Help. The 12 other teams are from Australia (two), Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the US, Netherlands and New Zealand. Oliver Almadro was designated by the Larong Volleyball Sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) to coordinate the training of both Philippine teams.

Garcia said 10,000 sacks of strained, cream-colored sand were transported from Southwoods to fill up an indoor court at the PhilSports Arena at a cost of P1.8 Million. “After the ‘Spike For Peace,’ we plan to store the sand and make it available for use by the UAAP, NCAA, the Shakey’s V-League and PSL,” said Garcia. “We don’t intend to waste this world-class sand by exposing on an outdoor court. This is the first indoor beach volleyball event in the country. It’s a situation where you can control the environment. The air-conditioning at the PhilSports Arena makes it comfortable for the players and spectators. When the Mall of Asia hosts beach volleyball games, they start late afternoon so it’s not too warm and humid. If you play indoors, you can start playing even in the morning because of the controlled temperature.”

Garcia said the first two days of the competition are free to the public. Tickets for patron and lower level sections were distributed to the UAAP, NCAA, V-League and PSL so the seating will be orderly. For the succeeding days, patron tickets will sell for P500 and lower level P300 with general admission still free. “We want to fill up the place and expose the fans to top-grade beach volleyball competition,” said Garcia. “It’s relatively inexpensive to host a beach volleyball tournament. Each team is made up of only two players and in providing accommodations, you allocate a room for each team since coaches aren’t allowed. It’s a lot easier and less expensive than holding a basketball tournament where each team has a travelling party of at least 20 with players, coaches and officials.”

Garcia said it’s within the PSC’s mandate to promote sports. “Two years ago, we brought in Yao Ming and his team Shanghai Sharks to play against the PBA and Gilas at the Araneta and MOA,” he said. “The Sharks came with 40 people so we had to book 20 rooms at the Dusit. Yao Ming, of course, was in a suite. It was a successful event and we even earned a net income of P3 Million. Yao Ming was so happy that he gave me his shoes. The law allows the PSC to raise funds in promoting sports so when our consultant Eric LeCain suggested an international beach volleyball event, we decided to go for it. ‘Spike For Peace’ is sanctioned by the POC, LVPI, Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and the FIVB (International Federation of Volleyball). It’s a much-talked-about event internationally as some very exciting players are coming. Unfortunately, it’s not as well-publicized in the Philippines. At least, not yet.”

Garcia said during the APEC week, the PSC couldn’t spread the word on “Spike For Peace” because of the work holidays. “The games will be covered by TV5 so the excitement of beach volleyball will be captured on screens around the country,” he said “With the rising popularity of indoor volleyball, we feel it’s time to also promote beach volleyball which is an Olympic event.”

LeCain, 51, is a former volleyball player from Oberlin College in Ohio. He has been involved in beach volleyball as a player, coach and organizer for over 30 years. LeCain was a consultant with the Malaysian national team when he was invited to coach here by the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) in 2010. A conflict of ideas led LeCain to break away from the PVF after eight months. The PSC, however, offered to retain LeCain as consultant and assigned him to Cebu where there are beautiful beaches and talented athletes.

LeCain said the future is bright for the Philippines in beach volleyball. “If we continue to work hard with focus, we’ll be competitive in both the Southeast Asian and Asian Games,” he said. “Our goal is the 2020 Olympics. At the recent Olympic qualifying for men’s beach volleyball, we beat New Zealand which is a regional powerhouse. We failed to qualify for Rio but we’ve clearly made progress with our players Jade Picaldo, Edward Ybanez, Jon Ray Sasing and Edmar Bonono. I think we won’t only be ready to play at the next Olympic qualifying but we’ll be ready to win. Right now, we’re ranked No. 16 or 17 in Asia when before, we were down to No. 120.”

LeCain said he’ll reach out to Los Angeles-based Fil-Am beach volleyball legend Liz Masakayan, now 50, to inspire and coach Filipino players. “Liz is a legend in the sport,” said LeCain. “She has played and coached in the Olympics. She’s extremely famous in the US and I’m sure she’ll be happy to share her knowledge with Filipinos.” Masakayan was born in Quezon City and led UCLA to the NCAA championship in 1984. She represented the US in beach volleyball at the 1988 Olympics and coached the US team in 2004 and 2008. Masakayan retired from active competition in 2001.

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