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Phl men’s spikers face huge odds

There is no cowering down for Filipino spikers even in the face of an uphill battle against powerhouse defending champion Indonesia to begin their campaign in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia today.

Bracketed in the so-called group of death, the inexperienced Philippine men’s volleyball team will try to avoid being reduced to mere fodder in front of the towering three-peat-seeking Indonesians when they take center court at the Olympic Complex Indoor Main Hall.

Game time of the Group A opening day clash is set at 3:30 p.m. (Philippine time).

The squad handled by Brazilian coach Sergio Valadares Veloso has set a modest goal of giving a good fight. The return to the podium is a long shot for the national team missing the core of its roster that captured silver in the 2019 Manila edition of the biennial meet.

‘It will be a difficult battle for us. We can’t promise anything but our 110 percent effort to get the result we want.’

Still, team captain Vince Mangulabnan remains defiant in a David versus Goliath encounter with the Indonesians, who are tipped to once again dominate the event.

“It will be a difficult battle for us. We can’t promise anything but our 110 percent effort to get the result we want,” the setter said.

Indonesia has overtaken perennial favorite Thailand in lording over the competition, taking the last two top podium finishes starting in 2019 at the expense of the Philippines.

The Nationals, however, will parade a lineup with only Jau Umandal and Manuel Sumanguid III holdovers from last year’s Hanoi Games team that placed fifth.

Other national team members are Kim Dayandante, Vince Patrick Lorenzo, Jayvee Sumagaysay, Rwenzmel Taguibolos, Leo Ordiales, Steven Charles Rotter, Cyrus Justin de Guzman, Michael Raymund Vicente, Jade Disquitado, Lloyd Josafat and Jay Rack de la Noche.

What the Filipinos learned in their 15-day Japan training will be put to the test against the battle-tested Indonesians.

The other Group A match is at 8:30 p.m. between Singapore and last year’s silver medalist Cambodia.

The Philippines squares off with the Cambodians tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. before wrapping up the group stage on Saturday against Singapore at 5 p.m.

Bracketed in Group B are Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar.

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