Japanese coach impressed but pinpoints SEAG-bound volleyball team’s weakness

OKAYAMA CITY, Japan — The Philippine women’s volleyball team shrugged off a 10-hour journey from Manila to this city to impress the Japanese coach who led his Okayama City Seagulls to a hard-fought win over the games Filipinas late Tuesday.

Akiyoshi Kawamoto, the Seagulls coach, gave the Nationals an impressive grade at the start of their 17-day training camp in preparation for the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Kawamoto, whose squad is a powerhouse in the Japan V.Premier League, said the Filipinas possess impressive skills and talent and could blossom into a regional force anytime soon.
“I like your speed. You are very skilled and talented,” Kawamoto told the Nationals after the match.

“But one thing I noticed is that you lack concentration. You easily panic whenever you’re being attacked. You have to control yourselves and maintain your composure in tight situations.”

Kawamoto was referring to the first set where the Nationals stayed in the game, 16-14. But the Japanese made a furious rally, turning the slim lead into a 25-16 victory that dictated the tempo of the match.

“You were intimidated after that,”Kawamoto added. “But I see a bright future for your team. You will go far, believe me. All I want you to do is to have concentration, good communication, don’t panic and don’t be complacent whenever you’re leading.”

Kawamoto wants to improve the Filipinos’ floor defense and blocking as well as build their character, especially when the game is on the line.

“We love how the Japanese coach has been training us,” said team captain Mika Reyes.

“This is an eye-opener for us. We realized that we still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve.”

The Nationals and the Seagulls will figure in an official match on Saturday with no less than Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the organizing committee for the AVC Women’s Seniors Volleyball Championship, joining a group of Filipino expats and overseas contract workers in the gallery.

Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. acting president Peter Cayco, meanwhile, will arrive to join the squad on July 25.