Alas Pilipinas Enters AVC Challenge Cup Semis On A High Note

Once Hastily Assembled, Alas Pilipinas Enters AVC Challenge Cup Semis On A High Note

Alas Pilipinas finishes their group stage unblemished as they prepare for a historic semifinals appearance.

Heading into the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup, it was clear that Alas Pilipinas was full of talent. Featuring a core of young stars mixed with established vets, it was hard not to be excited over what this squad can reach. 

But despite all that, it was hard to overlook the lack of preparation time. Making matters worse, some players had to pull out due either injury, academic commitments, and a little bit of both.

Yet when the AVC Challenge Cup began, it was hard to believe that Alas Pilipinas had a fairly chaotic build up, as they cruised through pool play.

And on Sunday, they capped the preliminaries off with a 25-13, 25-21, 25-18 sweep over Chinese Taipei. Pool play complete, and a knockout semis over Kazakhstan on Tuesday is next. As previously noted, such a feat is the first for any Philippine volleyball squad.

Hindi madali ang pinagdaanan namin, at alam namin na hindi magiging madali ang pagdadaanan namin in the future. Ibang laban na ang semifinals so we’re just going in with a positive mindset,” said captain and setter Jia de Guzman, one of Alas Pilipinas’s veterans. 

While nothing is certain, one can now rely on Alas’ mix of youngsters and vets to come through. More than that, “second six” has proven to be more than competent with coach Jorge Souza de Brito resting his starters to close out group play. 

So kahit sino samin ready pumasok, ready magdeliver, kahit si Julia Coronel as a setter. So it’s good for us. At least we’re a bit more unpredictable para sa kalaban,” she said. 

Like de Guzman, de Brito also acknowledged how this Alas Pilipinas crew has stepped up. Despite the short preparation time, he credited how everyone tries “to help the team”, whether it’s through scoring a point or two, or doing the right things on the taraflex. 

However, de Brito was quick to acknowledge that it’s back to square one against Kazakhstan now. “Tough game. All of us will have a challenge in the coming days, because it’s start from zero now, okay? It’s one win, and another one. There’s a 50-50. You are at home, but they also have the team for a long…this is not the matter now. Let’s just play it hard,” said de Brito. 

With a day off upon them, and everyone recuperated, up next for Alas is to train and strategize against Kazakhstan. “Kazakhstan is a very strong team, very tall also, so medyo nakaranas naman kami nang matangkad at malakas na team from our bracket and ineexpect namin bukas sa training na ‘yun ‘yung paghahandaan talaga namin with coach Jorge,” said de Guzman. 

For her part, also-veteran libero Dawn Macandili-Catindig was all praises for this current crop of Nationals. Without discounting her past stints, Macandili couldn’t help but gush over the young talent that forms much of Alas Pilipinas. 

Feeling ko sobrang sarap lang maglaro ng volleyball. Natutuwa ako sa mga bata kasi sobrang mature nila maglaro and sobrang napapadali nila ‘yung trabaho namin,” Macandili told reporters post-game. 

And as part of a historic batch, the elite libero is just as happy to enter the semis. “And syempre, this is also a preparation na…it’s something we can leave with the future generations.” 

Banner Image courtesy of the Asian Volleyball Confederation.

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