MANILA, Philippines – Former five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo is grateful to have been given a slot in the Philippine men's national volleyball team pool this year, even with his inability to attend tryouts.
Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) and head coach Dante Alinsunurin held tryouts last February, with nearly 90 players showing up to compete for spots in the pool. Espejo, however, could not attend as he was still playing as an import for Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in Japan's V.League.
Still, it would be impossible to deny Espejo a spot in the pool, and Alinsunurin included him in the list of 20 players who may end up representing the country in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this year.
"Hindi ko masasabi na may special treatment, kasi may commitment ako sa Japan," said Espejo, who is in town to get treatment for his shoulder before returning to his team.
"Kung pwede ako umuwi para mag-tryout, ginawa ko 'yun," he stressed. "Masaya ako na binigyan ako ng slot."
Espejo will return to Japan in the first week of April, as Oita Miyoshi will compete in a pocket tournament following their campaign in the V.League. He expects to return in May.
"Pagbalik ko, full commitment na ako sa national team," vowed Espejo, who led Ateneo de Manila University to three UAAP championships before taking his talents abroad.
Espejo has previously represented the country in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
The high-leaping open spiker believes his experience in Japan will be a huge boost to him in his quest to help the country land in the podium in the SEA Games.
"'Yung playing style nila sa Japan sobrang iba talaga from defense pattern and 'yung iba nilang pattern. Mahirap talaga, pero masaya naman," said Espejo, whose Japan stint was highlighted by a 33-point explosion in a win against J-Tech.
"Noong start, hirap ako with communication. Kailangan talaga mag-adjust para sa kanila. Natuto din ako ng kaunting Japanese. Ngayon, nakakapag-usap na kami mg kaunti," he added.
"Sobrang laking experience niya para sa akin," he stressed.
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