Overseas volleyball players will be available for PH, assures Suzara

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2021 12:01 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2021 12:05 PM

PNVF president Ramon
PNVF president Ramon "Tats" Suzara. File photo

MANILA, Philippines -- The president of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) is confident that the country's overseas players will be available for the men's and women's national teams when they return to action next year.

Three Filipino players are currently in Japan as imports -- Jaja Santiago (Saitama Ageo Medics), Bryan Bagunas (Oita Miyoshi), and Marck Espejo (FC Tokyo). Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau is also expected to have another overseas stint after already playing in Puerto Rico earlier this year.

Speaking on "Power and Play," PNVF president Ramon "Tats" Suzara said he does not anticipate any problems when it comes to recalling these players for national team duty.

"The FIVB has a calendar. The calendar of the FIVB is that from October 15 to May 15, that is the club calendar. Meaning to say, there are no national team events," he explained.

"But from May 15 to September 15, that is the national team period," he added.

The 2021-22 season of Japan's V.League will start on October 15 and run until April 17, with a "winter break" from December 6 to January 7 scheduled in between. 

The expectation, Suzara said, is for the Filipinos abroad to fulfill their obligations to their club team but return to the country by May, which would hopefully make them available for continental competitions that the PNVF plans to join.

"After May 15, balik na dapat sila sa Pilipinas and play for the national team," he said.

Suzara further explained that many of the national team competitions in 2021 had to be postponed or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- including the Asian Women's Volleyball Championship that the Philippines was set to host.

The event was originally scheduled for August 29 to September 5 in Pampanga, but was moved to May 15-22 of next year instead.

"These are things that you don't expect to happen. It's out of our hands because of this pandemic," said Suzara.

He is hopeful that the situation will start to normalize next year, and that events will push through as scheduled. This also includes the Premier Volleyball League (PVL), which Suzara assured will also follow the FIVB schedule.

"We are fixing the calendar, so that there will be no conflict. So everybody must follow. The PVL is following," he said.

Aside from FIVB and AVC events, the Philippines also expects to play in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games next year. 

The SEA Games is tentatively set for May, while the Asiad is scheduled for September 10-25 in Hangzhou, China.