Strong home support fuels AVC Challenge Cup semis-bound Alas Pilipinas

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Strong home support fuels AVC Challenge Cup semis-bound Alas Pilipinas
Alas Pilipinas is undefeated at 3-0, with one game remaining in pool play.
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines – Alas Pilipinas found itself in an unexpected situation with a short preparation time for the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup.

Armed with barely a week of training as a team, there were little to no expectations for the national team in the regional tournament.

Despite this, Filipina spikers found themselves heading to their first-ever semifinals in the Challenge Cup and are primed for a No. 1 finish in Pool A, as they are undefeated at 3-0 with one game remaining in pool play.

For high-flying dynamo Sisi Rondina, the unlikely performances were the result of Alas Pilipinas drawing strength from their countrymen. The Nationals have been on the receiving end of sold-out crowds at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum since Thursday.

“Ako masaya ako sa naging performance namin for the past three games na nangyari, nalaro namin, sobrang nakikita talaga na kahit one-week preparation, apat na araw lang ata talaga yun, pero eto kami, nilalaro namin yung volleyball na dala dala namin yung bansa natin,” Rondina said after their most recent win over Iran on Saturday. 

“Siguro yun din talaga yung inspirasyon namin, kasi iba na to eh, may Philippines na nakalagay so dun kami humuhugot ng lakas,” she added.

Each and every night, flocks of Filipino fans headed to the venue to cheer on the Filipina spikers. Alas, for their part, repaid their support with their historic campaign.

Still, work remains to be done as Chinese Taipei awaits the Nationals in final game in pool play on Sunday. Alas Pilipinas can also reach for the stars once the semifinals come their way.

But as far as Rondina is concerned, the team is determined to stay focused on playing their own brand of volleyball. After working in their first three games of the tournament, Rondina isn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“Lagi lang nire-remind sa amin ni Ate Jia [De Guzman] na maglaro lang kami ng amin, yung pinakacomportable namin and kailangan lang naman rume-ceieve nang maayos and the offense will follow,” said Rondina. 

“So, ayun lang, siguro, maganda lang din yung pagli-lead niya kasi lahat kami nakikinig lang and sumusunod which is lumalabas naman.”

Rondina and the rest of Alas Pilipinas return to action on Sunday, 7 p.m., still at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum against Chinese Taipei.

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