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Pinoy spikers in good hands

MARCK Espejo’s leadership will be crucial in the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s campaign in the AVC Challenge Cup for Men. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Marck Espejo/IG

Veteran spiker Bryan Bagunas is confident about the Philippine men’s volleyball team’s chances in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Challenge Cup for Men in Taiwan with power-hitter Marck Espejo leading the charge.

The national squad saw the return of ace winger Espejo along with Rex Intal and Kim Malabunga after skipping the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last May.

With the trio back in the fold, the Nationals coached by Brazilian mentor Sergio Veloso have a good chance of going deep in the 17-nation field tournament unfolding today.

Bagunas believes that the Nationals are in good hands with Espejo at the helm backed by Intal, Malabunga and mainstay Jau Umandal, who all played key roles in the Philippines’ silver medal finish in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

“I’m really happy and confident with our national team, especially with the return of some of the veterans,” Bagunas, who also missed the recent SEA Games edition and will not participate in the Challenge Cup, told Daily Tribune.

The seasoned internationalist was in the 20-man pool named by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation for the Challenge Cup however only 14 names made it to the final lineup.

Bagunas just recently joined the team for training following his wedding last month.

“I’m sure they’ll be able to lead the team and their presence is a huge boost for the team,” he added.

“And for sure they will perform well because the team is well-prepared and consistently training.”

The Nationals flew to Taiwan last Thursday and had a couple of days to study and prepare for their Pool D action starting Sunday.

The Filipinos face Macau to open their campaign before taking on Mongolia the following day.

Also carrying the country’s pride in the prestigious tournament are setters Vince Mangulabnan and Kim Dayandante, Filipino-American opposite spiker Steve Rotter, Lloyd Josafat, and liberos Manuel Sumanguid and Vince Lorenzo, who are all looking for redemption after their fifth place finish in the Phnom Penh SEA Games.

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