MANILA, Philippines – While the Philippine women's volleyball team is gaining precious exposure and experience through its participation in the 2017 Asian Women's Volleyball Championship, the men's team continues to prepare out of the limelight.
For men's team captain Johnvic de Guzman, this is exactly how they would prefer it.
"I think, hindi naman naka-apekto kasi … for us, mas tago 'yung team namin," he said during the send-off for Southeast Asian Games athletes last week.
"Kumbaga, advantage sa amin na doon lang nila malalaman kung ano 'yung men's national team namin. Walang makakapag-scout sa amin," he pointed out.
[I don't think the lack of exposure affected us. I think it can work to our advantage, because we won't be scouted by the other teams.]
The women's team, headed by Mika Reyes, Jaja Santiago, and Alyssa Valdez, will get a close look at some of their SEA Games opponents in the AVC tilt, particularly Vietnam and Thailand.
In contrast, the men's team won't be able to gauge themselves against their foes until they get to Kuala Lumpur, but de Guzman believes this will also allow them to pull off some shockers against their opponents.
"Sayang din 'yung experience na mage-gain namin sana, kung kasama kami doon," he acknowledged. "But then, sa positive side na lang kami talaga. Surprise na lang talaga."
[Yes, we could have gotten more experience by participating, but we just look at the positive side. We can pull off surprises in the SEA Games.]
De Guzman, a former De La Salle-College of St. Benilde standout, refused to make any promises regarding a potential podium finish for the men's team, instead only vowing that they will give their best.
"Hindi ko sinasabing confident kami na maiuuwi namin 'yung gold," he said. "Pero sisiguraduhin namin na gagawin namin ang lahat, sa abot ng aming makakaya, at isasapuso namin kung ano ang mga gagawin namin."
"Gagawin na lang namin kung ano 'yung pinaka-best namin, and kung plan ni God na ibigay sa amin kung magka-medal man kami, siguro additional na lang talaga 'yun," he added.
[I won't say we're confident that we can bring home the gold. We'll just make sure to do everything we can. We'll just do our best. If God gives us a medal, then that's just a bonus.]
The Philippines is grouped with Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam in the preliminary round. They open their campaign against Vietnam on August 21.
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