The Philippine women’s national team flew to Thailand on Tuesday, Aug. 29, for the 22nd Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship but not without a morale-boost from SM’s top man Hans Sy.
“I believe in you, I believe you can deliver really good result,” Sy, chairman of SM Prime Holdings, told the national team during a send-off brunch at the Conrad Hotel.
“This is a competition, but it’s not ‘win or lose,’ it’s really the experience you’ll gain and momentum you’ll build,” Sy also told the team composed of the core of the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs and top collegiate players.
With Sy during the send-off were Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara and secretary-general Donaldo Caringal and Lady Bulldogs team manager Engineer Mariano “Bing” See Diet.
The team—coached by Brazilian Jorge Edson Souza de Brito with NU’s Norman Miguel as deputy—is led by University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 84 Rookie Most Valuable Player Alyssa Solomon and fellow NU star Michaela Belen.
Also on the team are NU’s Natashza Bombita, Camille Lamina, Shaira Jardio, Minierva Maaya, Evangeline Alinsug, Erin Pangilinan, Pearl Denura and Myrtle Escanlar along with incoming rookies Arah Panique and Abegail Pono.
They are joined by Lorene Toring of Adamson University and Nina Ytang of University of the Philippines
The PNVF intends to develop the young team into a fighting squad come 2025 when the country targets to host the FIVB Women’s World Championships.
“I am looking forward to form a dream team for 2025 in the world championships,” Suzara told the athletes.
“I will support that,” Sy told the young athletes as he bared a suggestion that the world championships be staged at a world-class arena at SM Cebu.
The arena, according to Sy, is currently being built and is expected to surpass the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“Besides the main court, there will also be a warmup court,” said Sy of the Cebu arena that will seat at least 15,000 just like the MOA Arena. “What we missed out in the MOA Arena, we’re including them all in Cebu.”
Competition will be tough in the Asian Volleyball Confederation tournament that will be held at the Chartchai Hall of The Mall in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Fourteen strong teams are seeing action with the Philippines bracketed in Pool D with many-time champion China, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong.
Reigning champion Japan leads Pool B with India and Iran, Pool A is composed of Australia, Thailand and Mongolia and Pool C is composed of South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The Philippines plays Kazakhstan at 3 p.m. on opening day Wednesday, China also 3 p.m. Thursday and Hong Kong at 12 noon Friday. Saturday is rest day and the semifinals and classification matches are on Saturday and the final on Monday.
In inspiring the volleyball players, Sy told them what his late father, Henry Sy, maintained as his principle in making SM as the biggest mall and department store chain in the country.
“Stay focused, be hungry and stay humble,” Hans Sy said. “ “Stay focused, believe in yourself. Atay focused on the game, forget about all other things—just concentrate on the game.”
“Stay hungry, always be hungry to win, there’s no such thing as easy win—no matter how wide the margin is you have to be hungry. If you have these two, you’ll definitely win, and if you win, stay humble.”
Sy added: “That is actually the formula of SM. We’re No. 1. We understand the expectations is much higher so we work harder. That’s why my father would always say ‘in good times we work hard. In bad times we work harder.”