The national men’s volleyball team lost yet another prominent player after Bryan Bagunas announced that he will not be seeing action in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
Bagunas, who campaigns professionally with the LianZhuang WinStreak in Taiwan’s Top League, told Daily Tribune that a prior commitment makes it impossible for him to see action in the biennial meet set from 5 to 17 May in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Bagunas’ decision serves as a major blow to the national team program that already lost the services head coach Dante Alinsunurin and Joshua Retamar.
Alinsunurin, who steered the Nationals to a historic silver medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Pasig City in 2019, admitted that he was sacked by the federation last week due to “schedule issues.”
He was replaced by former national women’s team coach Odjie Mamon.
The 22-year-old Retamar also turned down the federation’s invitation due to conflict in schedule with National University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
In a previous report, however, Retamar lamented the firing of Alinsunurin and cited the lack of support of the federation to the national team program.
Now, it’s Bagunas’ turn to decline.
“I won’t be suiting up in the coming SEA Games because of prior commitments,” said Bagunas, who banners the list of 19 players invited by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation to see action in the SEA Games.
Bagunas and other nominated players were given until 2 February to respond to the invitation.
“I have already talked to (national team) manager Mike Verano about setting up a meeting with the PNVF to inform them first-hand. I want to personally inform (PNVF president Sir) Tats (Suzara) of my decision.”
Bagunas said he will be marrying his fiance, Nicole Tracy Tan, and the preparations will hamper his dedication to the national team program.
“I also told him (Verano) that I would like to beg off because I’m getting married,” he said.
“It’s just that I can’t commit right now because of time constraints.”
Bagunas said he had already submitted a formal letter to inform the PNVF of his intention to skip the SEA Games. The federation already acknowledged receiving his letter.
He added that he is looking at returning to the country around the third or last week of March to prepare for his wedding.
“I only have two months to prepare for my wedding,” he stressed.
“If I join the national team training, it will consume at least two weeks of my preparation. It will be difficult as I still have to attend seminars for our marriage. The schedule is just too tight.”
“At this point, I want to focus on my wedding.”
The PNVF is expected to announce the names of players who will compose the national team.
Forming the team will not be easy as the ongoing Spikers’ Turf will run until 2 April while college players are still in the thick of their campaigns in the UAAP Season 85 that will kick off starting February.
The federation is also eyeing a two-week training in Japan around April.
“Even if I wanted to join, it would require sacrificing my wedding, which we have already planned. My fiancé’s parents will be flying from Canada and we have set everything already. We can’t postpone our wedding,” Bagunas said, clarifying that his decision has nothing to do with the sacking of Alinsunurin and the decline of Retamar.