MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University stars Marck Espejo and Ish Polvorosa as well as Cignal stars Peter Torres and Mark Alfafara lost their chances to represent the country in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games after skipping the Clash of Heroes on Monday.
This, according to men's national team coach Sammy Acaylar.
Acaylar watched from the sidelines at the FilOil Flying V Centre as members of the men's national team pool battled in a five-setter, with Johnvic de Guzman eventually leading his Blue Rajah team to a 25-27, 25-23, 25-19, 28-25, 15-9 victory over Red Lakan.
Not attending the fundraising event were Espejo and Polvorosa, as well as Cignal's Torres, Alfafara, Bonjomar Castel, and Lorenzo Capate. Herschel Ramos, Erikson Ramos, and Anjo Pertierra were no-shows as well.
These players will no longer be considered for inclusion into the 18-man pool from which the national team will eventually be selected, Acaylar said.
"Kumbaga, tapos na 'yung patience ko sa kanila," he said. "During our practice, sometimes hindi sila nage-ensayo. I understand dahil marami silang liga. Iniintindi ko lahat 'yun, but this is the most important, na mabigay nila 'yung best nila."
"So, that's it. Ibig sabihin, hindi talaga sila naka-commit for the country. So bakit hihintayin pa natin sila?" he asked.
Acaylar believes that even without those stars, the national team training pool still has plenty of players who have great potential. He cites National University's Bryan Bagunas, who did not attend practices as he was still too busy with the Bulldogs' campaign in the UAAP, but showed up to the Clash of Heroes when asked.
Bagunas scored 24 points to lead Red Lakan, showcasing his superb power and leaping ability all game long.
"They are willing to give themselves up for the country," said Acaylar. "'Yan ang mga hinahanap kong players ngayon."
From the 24 players who attended the Clash of Heroes on Monday, Acaylar will choose 18 to be part of the national training pool. He already has 10 players in mind who are "shoo-ins," including team captain De Guzman.
These players will then compete for the 12 slots to the national team that will be sent to the Southeast Asian Games in August.
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