MANILA, Philippines -- Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, the stars of the Philippine men's national volleyball team, will miss their campaign in the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship, but their slots in the squad remain secure.
Dante Alinsunurin, the head coach of the team, assured that both Bagunas and Espejo will suit up for flag and country in the future.
"Meron naman kaming communication between the club teams of Bryan and Marck," Alinsunurin said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"Napag-usapan namin talaga na every time na siguro 'yung national team ang dala natin is, talagang maglalaro sila. Anytime na national team 'yung dadalhin natin sa international, makakalaro po sila," he said. "'Yun po ang mga usapan po namin."
The upcoming event in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand is a club competition, with the Philippine team competing under the banner of Rebisco. The schedule of the event, which runs from October 8-15, will be in conflict with Bagunas and Espejo's schedules for their professional clubs.
"Hindi po sila makakasali (sa Asian club championship) dahil sa situation na, nagsabay po 'yung competition between Asian Club and 'yung liga nila po sa Japan," Alinsunurin explained.
Both Espejo and Bagunas are playing as imports in Japan's V.League. Bagunas, who played for Alinsunurin in National University, is suiting up for Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler for the third straight season.
Espejo, a five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, will compete for FC Tokyo. He previously played for Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in 2018, before having stints in Thailand with Visakha, and Bahrain with Bani Jamra in 2020.
The V.League starts on October 15, the same day that the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship will conclude in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Both Bagunas and Espejo remain committed to the national team, however, and Alinsunurin has no doubt that they will be back for their events in 2022.
"We have a 20-man pool," he noted. "Some of the players namin, maglalaro sa Japan for the competition nila. Siyempre, mababago pa rin naman 'yung line-up namin after this tournament. And kailangan talaga na ma-select talaga pagdating sa competition ng SEA Games."
Meanwhile, Alinsunurin said the team that they will send to Thailand will be very competitive even without Bagunas and Espejo, who led the way in their second place finish in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
"Siyempre, solid pa naman 'yung team namin, although wala si Bryan at Marck," he said. "'Yung mga naiwan pa naman dito, nakita naman ninyo 'yung laro nila."