Open spikers Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunes are set to provide the needed one-two punch as they banner the Philippine national men’s volleyball team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) released the official list today, with Bagunas and Espejo headlining the country’s quest of achieving its first men’s volleyball title in the biennial meet.
Espejo will be making his return to the tricolor squad after missing out in the 2017 edition of the regional tournament due to his commitment to former collegiate team Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.
The four-time Spikers’ Turf MVP is set to collaborate with fellow open spiker Bryan Bagunas, who is currently in Japan with his club team Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler.
The former National University standout has been cleared to play in the upcoming SEA Games as he will fly back to the country on November 25, just in time for the tournament.
The power duo already proved their combined scoring prowess in the Rebisco-Philippines’ bronze-winning victory in the 2019 Sealect Tuna Championships last July, with Espejo unleashing 35 points and Bagunas dropping 22.
Completing the Philippines’ offensive arsenal are team captain John Vic De Guzman, two-time Spikers’ Turf MVP Ran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara, and Joshua Umandal.
Meanwhile, five-time UAAP Best Setter Ish Polvorosa will orchestrate the team’s offense along with Jessie Lopez and Joshua Retamar.
Other members of the 14-strong lineup are middle blockers Kim Malabunga, Francis Saura, and Rex Intal, together with defensive specialists Ricky Marcos and Jack Kalingking.
Calling the shots for the nationals is decorated head coach Dante Alinsunurin, who seeks to stage the country’s first ever gold medal finish in the said event.
The Philippines last made it to the podium was in the 2005 edition of the tournament in Manila, placing third.
The volleyball tournament of the regional meet will open on November 28.
(Photo courtesy of Sports Vision)