High hopes for Pinoy spikers in SEAG
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Star spiker Bryan Bagunas may have spent only four days with the Philippine men’s national team but he assured his readiness when he comes home later this month in time for the 30th SEA Games. 

The former MVP in the UAAP, who currently plays as reinforcement for top club Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in the Japan V. Premier League, had a brief chance to train with his teammates, who are in the middle of their Japan camp made possible by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc., and the Philippine Sports Commission. 

With the former NU stalwart in the fold, the Filipino spikers stood their ground against Division I squad FC Tokyo as it even snatched a set en route to a gallant 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 18-25 loss recently. 

“It’s a big thing for me to be able to train with my teammates even for just a while,” said Bagunas, who had to leave the squad yesterday to rejoin his mother club for their scheduled V. League match today. 

“At least, I got to play within the system anew and I got to play side by side with my teammates to make sure that we’re on the same page before the SEA Games. It’s a big help.” 

Though the 6-foot-5 hitter had already parted with the Nationals for the meantime due to club commitments, he is set for homecoming on Nov. 30, two days before the SEA Games volleyball competition is staged from Dec. 2 to 10 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. 

That should be enough time, Bagunas wishes, to rekindle his bond and chemistry with the rest of the Rebisco-backed national team in a bid to end a 14-year podium finish drought since copping a bronze medal in 2005. 

“I maybe a bit worried for I would only train with them again for just a short while when I return home but expect an all-out effort from me. I will give my best for the national team. I will pour it for the Philippines. So hopefully, we get to finish at the podium,” said Bagunas, who will be joined by other top spikers Marck Espejo and Ran Abdilla at the forefront of the men’s team. 

The Filipino spikers are bracketed in Pool B with Cambodia, Vietnam ang 2017 runner-up Malaysia while reigning champion Thailand leads Pool A with Myanmar and Singapore. 

Minus Bagunas, the Dante Alinsunurin-mentored Nationals will play three more scrimmages against Rissho University, Chuo U and Nippon Sports Science U after previous practice games against Saitama Azalea, Tsukuba United, Fujitsu Red Spirits and Chiba Zelba. They will return home on Nov. 20.

BRYAN BAGUNAS
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