Credit: volleyballphilippines.com

Japan and Thailand have already settled down in the official hotel as the two Asian powerhouse teams begin their preparation in earnest for Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) set from June 14 to 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

First to arrive was Thailand on Tuesday afternoon, while Japan planed in at dawn Wednesday.

The Thais, who had a fantastic first week with a 3-1 win-loss record capped by a stunning five-set win over China in Ankara, Turkey, are missing injured middle blocker Thatdao Nuekjang, but the reigning Southeast Asian Games champions will have Pimpichaya Kokram and Ajcharaporn Kongyot leading the charge.

Coming off a perfect 4-0 record in Shreveport and Bossier City in the US, the Japanese will have new team captain Sarina Koga and Arisa Inoue leading the charge to protect their top ranking.

Before their first training session at the PhilSports Arena Wednesday, Thailand and Japan took Antigen tests for COVID-19 and all team players and staff yielded negative results.

Canada will arrive on Friday, followed by China on Saturday.

Tokyo Olympics gold medalist and three-time VNL titlists USA, Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland complete the cast in the event that has Mikasa, Ganten, Gerflor and Senoh as global sponsors and global suppliers, PLDT Home as presenting partner, Rebisco, MG Philippines, TOP Speed Insurance, Asics and Maynilad as official sponsors, Havas Ortega, The Look Company, Summit Outdoor Media, The Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Marketing Media Ventures, Strong Media Advertising Solutions. 91.5 Win Radio, Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, City of Taguig, Quezon City and F2 Logistics as official suppliers.

Thailand and Japan will play the national team on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in a side event dubbed the Philippine National Volleyball Federation International Challenge this weekend at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

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