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by Andy Field
With a cast less than the number expected the National (Indoor) Team try-out for the women pushed through with PNVF President “Tats” Suzara looking over the coaches and players at the Subic Gym. 16 of the expected 40 players invited were present and participated. Suzara mentioned that the players who went to Subic for the tryouts would form part of the National Team in principle.
Many of the attendees, if they become part of the final cut, will be joining the team for the first time in their career. Due to the significant number of absentees the average age of the players in the Subic try-outs was lower than expected. Although the participation of several youthful and talented players could be advantageous to the federation in the long term, a battle-tested unit for the 2021 South East Asian Games this year must be the priority to acquire a gold medal finish.
The younger batch of players on the list were Kamille Cal (NU), Faith Nisperos (ADMU), Ivy Lacsina (NU), Mhicaela Belen (NU), Imee Hernandez (UST) and Alyssa Solomon (NU).
Expectedly with the absence of many of the former members of the senior National Team only a few players who have played for flag and country were in training gear, namely, Eya Laure (UST), Abigail Marano (F2 Logistics), Jaja Santiago (Ageo Medics, Chery Tiggo), Majoy Baron (F2 Logistics), and Mylene Paat (Chery Tiggo).
The experienced collegiate and professional players who joined were Iris Tolenada (formerly Motolite), Dell Palomata (Sta. Lucia), Ria Meneses (Petrogazz), Jennifer Nierva (UST), and Bernadett Pepito (UST).
In terms of experience and maturity, many of the attendees will need multiple doses of both because the group, in general, have very limited international experience. Certainly, it would be the responsibility of the federation to organize a team that would best represent the country in all senior international tournaments. Elite players should be given the chance to participate.
Unfortunately, a straightforward and disciplined procedure may not be enough to achieve these goals. With the coronavirus covering all corners of the world it could be favorable to find a more unique approach in forming the team.
The notable absentees who were former National Team members were Alyssa Valdez (Creamline), Kim Fajardo (F2 Logistics), Din Din Santiago (Chery Tiggo), Kim Dy (F2 Logistics), Denden Lazaro (Choco Mucho), Dawn Macandili (F2 Logistics), Jia Morado (Creamline), and Maddie Madayag (Choco Mucho).
With far-reaching and well-organized professional tournaments the country has become an ideal destination for talented foreign volleyball players. Many foreign players with Filipino ancestry playing in the PSL and the PVL in the past decade have made a remarkable impact on their local team. An impact that would translate well in the National Team if they were to be given a chance to join. Alohi Robins-Hardy (Cignal HD Spikers), MJ Philips (Sta. Lucia), and Kalei Mau (Changas de Naranjito) are just a few who did not physically make it to Subic but could make a difference for the Philippine volleyball program.
In an interview, National Team Commission head Tony Boy Liao conceded that a second try-out may be a possibility depending on the evaluation of the team coaches. The national team is scheduled to start training on May 15th in preparation for the upcoming SEAGames in Hanoi.