KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Philippine men's and women's volleyball teams arrived at the Malaysia capital on Saturday afternoon, tired from their long flight but upbeat as their event in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games draws closer.
Despite their exhaustion, the teams still wanted to go to the opening ceremonies of the Games, with men's team coach Sammy Acaylar saying that it will be an inspirational experience for the players.
The men's team will open their campaign on Monday, taking on Vietnam at Hall 11 in MiTEC at 5:00 p.m. The women's team, meanwhile, won't play until the 24th against Malaysia.
For Acaylar, the men's team is as ready as it can be for the SEA Games.
"We've done our training camp in Korea, of course," he told ABS-CBN News upon their arrival at the team's hotel in Kuala Lumpur. "Of course, we're prepared. All my players are ready for this battle in the SEA Games."
While the women's team had the benefit of playing in the AVC Asian Women's Volleyball Championship last week as further preparation for their bid, the men's team did not have the same exposure.
But Acaylar is not worried.
"Nasa training naman natin 'yan at nasa puso ng mga bata," he explained. "Ginawa naming challenge lahat eh. The lone training camp namin sa Korea, 'yung struggles, 'yung training na ginawa namin is for the Philippines, para sa bansa namin."
"I know we will perform well in the SEA Games," he added.
Despite his optimism, Acaylar is not making any promises regarding a podium finish for the men's team. The women's team, headed by Francis Vicente, made no predictions either.
Instead, all Acaylar promised is that the men's team will play to the very best of their ability.
"Hindi naman ako hypocrite. We want to win, of course," he said. "I know my players are ready, and we know of course na matagal tayong nawala sa SEA Games."
"We pray, and all my players are praying for this SEA Games, na makakuha ng medalya. Hindi kami nangangako. But then, gagawin namin ang lahat (para) maibigay namin sa Pilipino ang gusto nilang makita sa volleyball," he promise.