Credit: PNVF

Bangkok, Thailand, April 29, 2021 – The men showed up almost in full force on Day 2 of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) national volleyball team tryouts at the Subic Gym bubble, each packing strong potentials that would send the coaching staff deep into the night figuring out who to pick and who not to.

Marck Espejo, a member of the silver medal-winning team in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, showed the pandemic didn’t slow him down, squeezing out inspired performances from national teammates Jessie Lopez and Josh Retamar—and 29 others who were split into morning and afternoon sessions.

“I’m sure the coaches will have a hard time determining who to pick,” said PNVF president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, who added that the men’s and women’s volleyball teams will be composed of 20 players each.

Thirty-one of the 40 players invited to the men’s tryouts answered the call with nine missing the exercise, including Bryan Bagunas, who arrived in the country from his stint in the Japan V.League only recently and had to complete a 14-day quarantine.

The PNVF scheduled the three-day tryouts in Subic through the efforts of Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig City, the federation’s local government unit “godfather.”

The women’s volleyball tryouts were staged on Wednesday with the beach volleyball tryouts capping the major PNVF activity on Friday. All participants underwent RT-PCR tests with the players wearing face masks all throughout the tryout proceedings.

Long-time Philippine team skipper John Vic de Guzman led the morning session aspirants, who includes his teammates Mark Alfafara and Jao Umandal.

JP Bugaoan, Kim Dayadante, Anthony Ekwenugo, Mark Enciso, Alche Gupiteo, Noel Kampton, Kim Malabunga, Chumson Njigha Jr., Leo Ordiales, Ish Polvorosa, Jian Matthee Salarzon Ricky Marcos, and Manuel Sumanguid completed the morning session.

The afternoon session was composed of Rex Intal, Nico Almendras, Leo Aringo, Lloyd Josafat, Joeven dela Vega, Jack Kalingking, Louie Ramirez, Ysay Marasigan, Banjo Mondero, John Mark Ronquillo, Kharyl Parce, Rayver Sison and Francis Saura.


The road to Hanoi started inside the Subic Gymnasium bubble on Wednesday with 16 aspirants—a mix of veterans and promising collegiate players—answering the whistle in the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) tryouts for the women’s volleyball team.

Jaja Santiago – to date the most successful Filipina with a championship she earned with Ageo Medics in the Japan V.League – joining fellow 2019 Southeast Asian Games veterans Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, Mylene Paat and Eya Laure in the tryouts supervises by women’s head coach Odjie Mamon.

Among the veterans who joined tryouts were Iris Tolenada, Ria Meneses, Dell Palomata, while the collegiate hopefuls were Kamille Cal, Mhicaela Belen, Ivy Lacsina, Alyssa Solomon, Jennifer Nierva , Faith Nisperos, Imee Hernandez and Bernadette Pepito.

Santiago and teammates Laure and Paat were clad in their red PPE-like Cherry Tigo practice uniforms as they gamely participated in skills tests at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority facility.

The participants observed protocols—with the players and coaches wearing face masks throughout the proceedings in accordance with health and safety protocols set by Dr. Raul Canlas, medical commission head of both the PNVF and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“The federation puts the health and safety of the participants in equal footing with our goal of forming the national teams as soon as possible,” PNVF president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, adding the teams will be fielded in the Hanoi SEA Games in November and possible in the Asian Women’s Championship in August – in the event the Asian Volleyball Confederation awards the hosting chores to the country.

MJ Phillips couldn’t join the tryouts as she was forced to go into quarantine after a staff in her Sta. Lucia team tested positive of COVID-19 only the other day.

The men’s volleyball tryouts are scheduled on Thursday and the beach volleyball tryouts are set on Friday. The participants immediately returned to Manila after the exercise on board quarantined bus.

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