KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – As early as now, Alyssa Valdez is already looking forward to the Philippines' hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where she hopes that the national volleyball team can make an even bigger splash.
The Philippine team, formed just months before the 29th Southeast Asian Games, advanced to the semifinals but fell to powerhouse Thailand, and then lost in heartbreaking fashion to Vietnam in the battle for the bronze medal.
Yet afterward, the players were mostly upbeat, having felt that they gave their best effort and received the best result possible for them, given their circumstances.
"We were there. A lot of moments na kaya na talagang kuhanin," said Valdez after scoring 17 points in a 27-25, 22-25, 20-25, 21-25 loss to Vietnam, the silver medalist in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
"But we can't make excuses," she added. "Yung dinala talaga ng Vietnam, marunong talaga silang mag-close ng battle for third na match, and marami talaga silang experience going into this tournament."
The only thing that the women's team can do now is to move forward, said Valdez, and continue to work together as a squad in an effort to improve their chemistry.
Like national team coach Francis Vicente and various other volleyball stakeholders, Valdez is also advocating for greater international exposure for the squad.
"Kailangan pa naming mag-training na magkakasama, at kailangan pa namin ma-experience at makapaglaro ng sama-sama sa iba-ibang lugar," she said. "Sa Pilipinas man 'yan o sa iba-ibang lugar, kailangan na kailangan."
The former Ateneo de Manila University superstar also reiterated her call for unity among all volleyball stakeholders, even as she also confirmed her commitment to the national team moving forward.
"It's not a question. For all Filipino athletes na nabibigyan ng opportunity, commitment is not an issue," Valdez said emphatically. "Pag binigyan ka ng pagkakataon, susugod ka, lalaban ka."
"Ganoon tayong mga Pilipino, 'di ba? Hanggang hindi tapos ang laban, lalaban. Hanggang may opportunity na ibigay sa atin, ibibigay natin ang buong puso natin," she added.
All that being said, Valdez said the team must work hard to ensure a better showing in the 2019 SEA Games, which will be hosted by the Philippines.
"Homecourt advantage na tayo, may dalawang taon pa tayo ng preparation. So, ano pa hihingin natin?" she pointed out. "No excuses na, pagdating sa 2019."
"We have to accept everything, and we have to fight for the country. Nasa bayan tayo, and we have to give our 110%," she added.
The last time that the Philippines hosted the SEA Games, in 2005, also marked the last time that the women's volleyball team made it to the podium, as they nabbed a bronze medal in the event.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.