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KURASHIKI Ablaze makes its mark in the PVL plots to come up with bigger plans. (Photograph courtesy of PVL)

It is not just the local clubs that have learned a thing or two in the internationally-flavored Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.

Even Kurashiki Ablaze will be taking a piece of Filipino volleyball culture with them as they head back to Japan after completing a flawless conquest of the mid-season tournament.

The Japanese guest club flew back home Monday, a day after the grueling but memorable two-week stay capped by a thrilling, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-13, victory over erstwhile champ Creamline in the winner-take-all gold medal showdown at the jampacked Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Top-hitter Asaka Tamaru hopes she and her teammates adopt the positive demeanor of Filipino players even in tight situations.

“Filipino players smile a lot. Even in a bad situation, they never lose that smile and positive vibes. Unlike us, we easily lose heart in bad situations,” the 1st Best Open Spiker winner said.

“We hope we could emulate that Filipino style of smiling volleyball,” Tamaru said as she looks forward to Ablaze bringing that same kind of attitude when they begin their campaign in the Japan V.League Division III wars starting November.

Kurashiki also expressed gratitude for the warm welcome it received from local fans despite playing against favored home squads from the semifinals to the final.

“We’re super happy for the warmth we received from Filipino fans,” Ablaze head coach Hideo Suzuki said.

Kurashima and Vietnamese club Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh arrived two weeks ago to join Creamline, F2 Logistics, Cignal and PLDT in the round robin semifinals.

The Ablaze swept all their six outings.

Team captain Kyoka Ohshima, who was named Final Most Valuable Player, couldn’t help but feel envious of how much support the Filipino fans give to the sport.

The Japanese experienced goosebumps with how the venue rocked with an almost 9,000-strong loud and energetic crowd.

This electric atmosphere is what Ohshima admires the most.

“We see a lot of audience every game. I envy how Filipino fans fill up the venue every time,” Ohshima said.

Creamline supporters formed a sea of pink during the final but other fans, especially those of Cignal and F2 Logistics, who played earlier in the battle for bronze won by the HD Spikers, stayed to throw their cheers for the Japanese.

“Creamline had so many fans supporting them but we’re also surprised that there are others who cheered for us during the game. We want to thank all of them. Arigatu gozaimasu,” Ohshima said.

The Ablaze also conducted an outreach program in a depressed area in Tondo last Saturday that made their stay in the country extra meaningful.

If given another chance, Suzuki hopes his squad gets invited again next year.

“I hope our best friend (PVL president) Ricky (Palou) will invite us again. We promise 100 percent we’ll be back,” he said.

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