MANILA, Philippines -- With less than two weeks to go before they leave for Thailand, the Philippine women's volleyball teams are fine-tuning their chemistry inside the court.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) is sending two teams to the Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima -- Team Rebisco and Team Choco Mucho.
Both teams are still hard at work in training ahead of their departure on September 27.
"We're still practicing together, different combinations. Tapos meron ding time na separate training na, to make them jell together," said head coach Odjie Mamon. "These last two weeks before we leave for Thailand, 'yun 'yung importante."
Both teams have been training in a bubble in Lipa, Batangas since September 2, and Mamon said he is not too worried as far as the conditioning of the players are concerned.
"When it comes to the physical conditioning of the players, I'm really sure, I'm confident about that. Now doon sa skills, they have that, kaya sila nasa national team," he said.
However, he admits that they still have work to do as far as on-court chemistry is concerned, especially as few of the players have played together before.
The PNVF had divided the women's national team pool in order to send two squads to the Asian club championship, and the teams feature a combination of veterans and up-and-comers.
Team Rebisco will be led by national team captain Aby Maraño who will be joined by Eya Laure, Jema Galanza, Faith Nisperos, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Mhicaela Belen, Imee Hernandez, Ivy Lacsina, Kamille Cal, Rhea Dimaculangan, Bernadette Pepito, and Jennifer Nierva.
Meanwhile, Team Choco Mucho will be captained by Iris Tolenada. Joining her are Kalei Mau, MJ Phillips, Kat Tolentino, Mylene Paat, Kianna Dy, Tin Tiamzon, Ria Meneses, Majoy Baron, Dell Palomata, Deanna Wong, and Dawn Macandili.
"Ang volleyball [ay] team effort," said Mamon. "So 'yung team skills, that's where we lack at the moment. So we still have two weeks to prepare for this. Hopefully, we can achieve the desired status namin para sa kanila to play competitively."
The Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship will mark the first competition for the Philippine national team since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where they missed out on the podium.
Aside from the two Philippine teams, also set to compete in the tournament are Thailand's Nakhon Ratchasima and Supreme Chonburi; Kazakhstan's Altay and Zhetysu; and Iran's Saipa Tehran.
Both Mamon and team consultant Jorge Edson Souza de Brito of Brazil are still optimistic of the teams' chances in the competition, despite their less than ideal preparation due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm hopeful for a good result, or a good showing, or a good performance from the players. Most of them played in the last PVL, so I think they can carry the rest of the players who were inactive," said Mamon.
"My expectations [are] really, really good, because they really, really appreciate something new. They want to give a lot for the national team. So this is most important for the moment," Souza de Brito added.
The Asian club championships run from October 1 to 7.