MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine beach volleyball team on Sunday left for Thailand ahead of the AVC Continental Cup, an Olympic qualifying event that offers spots to the Tokyo Games for the top finishers in each gender.
The two-day competition is the second phase of the tournament. It is scheduled for Friday in the Nakhon Pathom province.
This also marks the country's first international competition for a national volleyball team since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, and the first since the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) was established in January.
"We are hoping for a strong finish for our men and women beach volleyball teams in this Olympic qualifier," said PNVF President Ramon "Tats" Suzara in a statement.
"Our athletes are adequately prepared for the competition, having set up a training camp in Pagudpud since last month," he added.
The two women's teams are composed of the pairs of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, and Dij Rodriguez and Babylove Barbon. Mer Jauculan and Gen Eslapor are reserves.
The men's squads are the pairs of Jaron Requinton and James Buytrago, and Jude Garcia and Anthony Arbasto duo. Ranran Abdilla and Philip Bagalay are alternates.
Rondina played in the 2014 Continental Cup, and was part of the national team that won the bronze medal in the 2019 SEA Games along with Pons and Rodriguez. The other member of that squad, Dzi Gervacio, is missing the Olympic qualifier due to a knee injury.
The team held its camp at the Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
The Philippines will face Japan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the women's contest, with the top two teams advancing to the final phase from June 25 to 27.
Requinton, Buytrago and Garcia also clinched a breakthrough bronze medal in the 2019 SEA Games. The Philippine men's teams will face Australia, Japan, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.
The No. 1 men's team will also advance to the third and final round of the qualifiers.
The teams will be accompanied by national coaches Paul Jan Doloiras (women) and Rhovyl Verayo (men) and PNVF board member and Beach Volleyball Commission chairperson Charo Soriano.
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