Five Filipina volleyball players who could play as imports overseas

For the past three years, Philippines has produced import-worthy men and women volleyball players.

It started when Alyssa Valdez was tapped by Thailand club 3BB Nakornnot as reinforcement in 2016, playing alongside Thai national team ace Pimpichaya Kokram. That same year, Valdez suited up for Attack Line of Chinese Taipei together with Vietnam stalwart Trần Thị Thanh Thúy.

In 2018, three Filipinos were recruited to play in the 2018-2019 season of the highly-vaunted Japanese V.Premiere League.

Sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat reinforced Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively, as Marck Espejo joined Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in the men’s division.

This year, another homegrown spiker in Bryan Bagunas is spreading his wings in the Land of the Rising Sun as his services were acquired by Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler as well.

The Santiago sisters, meanwhile, have also returned to Japan as Jaja is on her second tour of duty for Ageo Medics while Dindin plays for Kurobe Aqua Fairies.

With the growing recognition of the skills and talents of the Filipino spikers, it will not come as a surprise if more players will be tapped as imports by the Philippines’ neighboring countries.

After all, the country is a powerhouse team in the Southeast Asian region before it went on a hiatus following the 2005 SEA Games.

With no further ado, FOX Sports Philippines listed down some Filipino volleyball players who may have what it takes to play overseas as imports.

They were selected based on the past and present achievements as well as their current form and shape.

1. Sisi Rondina (Thailand)

Sisi Rondina is arguably the most explosive outside hitter today. Though at a disadvantage when it comes to height, Rondina makes up for it with her high leap and incredible hang time before unloading a spike that can break the blocks of even the tallest defenders — much like the Thais.

The spikers from Thailand are not the tallest hitters out there but their precision in attacks and all-around play make them the best ones in the region.

A multi-time champion beach volleyball player, the Petron ace’s reliable reception and floor defense further make her seemingly fit the Thai system.

2. Mylene Paat (Indonesia)

A late addition to the squad, Mylene Paat got her first taste of international action when the national team competed in the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia last year. At first, Paat saw scarce minutes on court, but as her true capacity was unfurled game by game, she then went on to become the team’s third-best scorer in the tournament.

Reportedly, the lefty opposite from Cignal was being recruited by an Indonesian club. This was not confirmed, though, but Paat taking flight in Indonesia is not a far-fetched idea given her skills and passion in the sports.

Paat is a mean hitter and a good blocker from the right side. She could learn a thing or two for suiting up in the Indonesian league, which is arguably one of the toughest in the region next to Thailand’s.

3. Jia Morado (Vietnam)

Trained by no less than coach Tai Bundit, Jia Morado is considered “Nootsara Tomkom” of the country with her style of playmaking — low, fast and precise. But while a Thailand stint is the most appropriate for Morado, playing in Vietnam may also be a good option.

The Creamline playmaker is a quick learner in determining what kind of sets her spikers want. Her composure during crunch moments is also impeccable — a characteristic that teams want their players to have.

A proof to this is the recent memory when Morado came in for the national team during its five-setter game against Vietnam in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix. Dragged into a five-setter, the team’s offensive flow improved when Morado was promoted as the main setter in the deciding frame, which they eventually won.

4. Dawn Macandili (Japan)

When the national team trained in Japan as preparation for the 2017 SEA Games, one player caught the eyes of Okayama Seagulls coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto.

During the 17-day training camp, Kawamoto was most impressed with pint-sized libero Dawn Macandili. In his own words, the Japanese mentor said Macandili will be a “world-class player” and that her play is “at par with Japan”.

That is why it is only fitting to say that the F2 Logistics libero could somehow thrive in Japan. Macandili is best known for her quick, defensive hustle and never-say-die attitude in keeping the balls alive — two traits that best define the Japanese, the masters of defense.

5. Kalei Mau (Europe)

Kalei Mau is not a rookie in the foreign arena. In fact, she has already suited up in two foreign clubs: Indias de Mayaguez of Puerto in 2016-2017 and Volleyball-Nantes of France in 2017-2018.

These were all before Mau took the country by storm last year. The outside spiker from F2 Logistics is not only a block-busting spiker but is also a decent floor defender, which is very atypical in Filipino players who stand at 6-foot and above.

A stint in Europe may further enhance her already hefty portfolio. It could be anywhere and Mau will still surely grow as a player as Europe has the most vaunted leagues in the world with the Turkish, Italian and Russian leagues to name a few.

(Images from Facebook/Philippine SuperLiga/Sports Vision/F2 Logistics)