MANILA, Philippines -- The players who missed the women's national volleyball team tryouts can still make it to the national team pool, after all.
Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon "Tats" Suzara walked back from his initial "no tryout, no national team" pronouncement, which he made on April 28 after a sparsely-attended tryout in Subic.
Of the 40 players that the federation invited to the women's national team tryout, only 16 attended including star middle blocker Jaja Santiago and national team skipper Abigail Maraño.
Several national team mainstays, including Alyssa Valdez, Kim Fajardo, Dawn Macandili, and Jia Morado, begged off over health and safety concerns.
Also missing the tryouts were: setter Rhea Dimaculangan; liberos Kath Arado and Denden Lazaro; outside spikers Myla Palo, Ces Molina, and Angel Canino; opposite hitters Kat Tolentino, Kianna Dy, MJ Phillips, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and Alleiah Malaluan; and middle blockers Bea de Leon, Risa Sato, Maddie Madayag, Thea Gagate, Marist Layug, and Lorene Toring.
On Wednesday, all 16 players who attended the tryout were named to the national team pool. But Suzara and National Team Commission chairman Tony Boy Liao said they have to pick at least four more players.
"We would like to complete the 20. It might be 21 (players), it might be 22, depending on the missing positions like setter, opposite, and outside hitter," said Suzara.
Making the selections are incoming Brazilian head coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito as well as coach Odjie Mamon. Souza de Brito is expected to arrive in the country by July, but is already studying game tapes of the national team players.
According to Suzara, all of the players who did not attend the tryout on April 28 will be considered for the remaining slots in the national team pool. Initially, he had said that only those with valid excuses will be considered, such as Filipino-American players Kalei Mau and Alohi Robins Hardy, who were both out of the country during the tryout.
"All these various reasons why they did not attend will be considered," said Suzara. "There will be no more tryouts."
Souza de Brito and Mamon will base their selections on previous competitions as well as their performances in the upcoming season of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).
"We definitely need another setter and another libero because the current ones we have on the lineup are both young. So we need a veteran libero to beef up the team. Outside hitter we have only three, so we need two or three more," said Mamon, who will provide Souza de Brito with the game film of the national team players ahead of the Brazilian coach's arrival in the Philippines.
The national team pool for both men and women will begin their training on June 1 in Subic, with the women's team set to compete in the AVC Asian Women's Volleyball Championship in August that the PNVF hopes to host in Clark, Pampanga.
Suzara has already requested the officials of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) to hold its tournament in a bubble in Subic so as the national team can keep training even while the conference is ongoing.
"I requested the PVL, through Ricky Palou and Tony Boy, na if possible na matuloy na sa Subic, because doon naka-base ang national team," he said. "It will be easier for the players to train."
"Although nothing is still final, but the PNVF's request is to have the PVL bubble in Subic. Kasi kung mag-ibang venue, mahihirapan ang national team," he added.
Aside from Subic, the PVL is also considering the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna as a possible site for its bubble.