MANILA, Philippines -- Mozzy Ravena has been one of the most prominent backers of men's volleyball in the Philippines, having organized the Spikers' Turf where players can showcase their talent after their collegiate days.
Their investment in the men's team paid off in a historic way in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where the squad exceeded all expectations by delivering a silver medal for the country.
En route to the gold medal match, they dethroned defending champion Thailand, a regional powerhouse, with a heart-stopping 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15 win in the semifinal. The Filipinos' fairy-tale run eventually ended at the hands of Indonesia in the final, but it was nonetheless an unforgettable achievement for the team.
In a recent appearance on the "2OT," Ravena praised the dedication of the men's volleyball players, who prepared for the SEA Games without the spotlight and hype that have followed the more high-profile women's team.
"Pine-pray ko talaga na sana itong grupong ito, may mangyari talaga. Niloloko ko nga sila dati. Sabi nila, 'pressure' daw kasi sabi ko, 'Pwede na silver. Pwede na'," Ravena said.
"Kalahati, nagloloko lang ako. Pero sa isip ko, masaya na tayo. Pero 'di ba, nangyari siya? It's a little bit of everyone's help, I think, kaya naging successful 'yung men's volleyball team," she added.
Ravena, herself a former volleyball star for University of Santo Tomas, said the team cannot rest on their laurels after their historic achievement. She hopes that the men's volleyball program can continue to gain support, especially when sporting events resume after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Beating Thailand, I mean ang laking morale-booster sa atin noon," she said. "But nevertheless, hindi naman tayo pwedeng mag-bank on that alone."
"Siyempre, it takes a lot of hard work, and I guess ngayon, mas double time pa nga tayo dahil nangyari sa atin 'to, given a good program, saka given a good support system," she added.
Virtually all sports came to a halt due to the pandemic, but leagues are slowly but surely returning to action now. In the Philippines, the organizers of the Spikers' Turf are also looking to ask for permission for their teams to return to practice, following the steps taken by the PBA and the Philippine Football Federation.
Ravena believes that the men's team can build on their run in 2019, all the way to the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam.
"Ngayon, pasipagan na lang ulit. Paunahan ulit mapunta doon sa perfect conditioning and again, on track with the program that we want," she said.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).