MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) is expected to send a team composed of professional players to the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam this coming May.
This, according to PNVF president Ramon "Tats" Suzara who noted that the SEA Games will likely coincide with the new season of the UAAP. The collegiate league intends to open its 84th season in the first quarter of 2022.
This means that the amateurs in the national team pool -- including Eya Laure of University of Santo Tomas, Faith Nisperos of Ateneo de Manila University, and Jennifer Nierva of National University -- will be unavailable for the SEA Games.
The biennial tournament will run from May 12 to May 23.
"Most of the players will be 95% from the PVL (Premier Volleyball League), because 'yung mga UAAP players natin are not available," said Suzara. "The UAAP is holding its tournament from February to May, so tatama sa SEA Games."
The PNVF has already finalized the line-up, according to Suzara, with the federation board expected to approve the roster by Tuesday.
"We just finished the national team commission meeting… and it is just for approval by the board," he added.
Also unable to join the national team for the SEA Games are UST's Imee Hernandez and Bernadette Pepito, and NU's Kamille Cal, Ivy Lacsina, and Mhicaela Belen, all of whom saw action in the Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship last year in Thailand.
As for the national team's preparation for the SEA Games, Suzara admits it will still depend on the schedule of the PVL.
The PVL initially planned to start its Open Conference on February 16 in a bubble set-up, but Suzara bared that this can change pending a board meeting on Wednesday. As it stands, the PVL may push its start to March, or postpone the tournament until after the SEA Games.
"The PVL will have another meeting on Wednesday as per Mr. (Ricky) Palou and Mr. (Tony Boy) Liao to finalize their schedule," said Suzara.
If the PVL pushes through with its plan to start in February, the national team would be tapped to compete in the tournament.
"But as of today, Mr. Palou said that they might move to March or after SEA Games na. So they will decide on that on Wednesday," said Suzara. "I will respect whatever their decision is because we already set the calendar."
"If February sila, the Open Conference was scheduled to end on April. Then after that, the national team will head to Brazil for a three-week training camp. That is already the original plan. The Brazil training, we are just finalizing it," he added.
"There is also an option that the PVL will be moved after the SEA Games. Following the FIVB calendar -- April in our original calendar and May 15 for the FIVB, I would want the national team sana to train afterward for the SEA Games."
Suzara said the PNVF will wait for the result of the PVL's meeting before deciding on the next step for the national team. But he assured that plans are in place for the national team's training regardless of how the PVL proceeds with its season.
"If they decide on not starting on February, the national team will begin training for the SEA Games," said Suzara.
The Philippines is looking to improve on a fourth-place finish in the 2019 edition of the SEA Games in Manila.