Best of 2014: My picks for Best Filipino Volleyball Players and Moments

MY TOP MEN’S VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS FOR 2014

1. Ran Abdilla (PLDT) – Amazing talent. Prolly the best men’s player in the country.

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2. Marck Espejo (Ateneo) – Rookie-MVP and still rockin it in 77. Great talent despite the young age.

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3. Howard Mojica (EAC/Cignal) – Amazing, Smart and Powerful

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4. Mark Alfafara (UST) – Prolific Scorer and never say die attitude

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5. Michael Sudaria (Adamson) – Small but terrible

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6. Ish Polvorosa (Ateneo) – Talented setter. Smart, fast and a great leader.

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7. JP Pareja (Ateneo) – Great leadership aside from his commendable talent in floor defense

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8. Peter Torres (NU) – Deadly running attack and has very good blocking

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9. Raymark Woo (La Salle) – Silent Assasin

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10. Vince Mangulabnan (NU) – Great setter

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11. Myco Antonio (Systema) – One of the most powerful lefties in the country

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12. Rence Melgar (Adamson) – Has great floor defense and a libero-leader too

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First Impressions about this year’s UAAP teams

UE

UE seems disorganized but they are definitely playing better compared last year. They have better floor defense and blocking. Must have been jitters but they should avoid committing errors. Wasn’t able to feel Adorador and Alcayde unlike last year. Talent is there, it’s just a matter of communication and teamwork. X-Factors this weekend: Dawis and Baliton

UP

Still rebuilding but they really have a lot of potential. They were really scrappy but offense is lacking. Tiamzon needed support a while ago and others failed to deliver. Setting and floor defense improved. Hopefully, Bersola will have a better game and Araneta will play in the next one. Future looks bright for them. They have a chance of upsetting one of the top teams but let’s see. X-Factors this weekend: Tiamzon and Estranero

UST

Better movement. Blocking has improved a lot. They have better offensive options now especially with the entry of Rondina and Pacres. Floor defense is decent too. Setting is definitely better this year. I think UST has this sort of completeness. If they will play as a team in the coming games, who knows, they might dominate. X-Factors this weekend: Lastimosa and Laure

FEU

Great blocking and floor defense! Impressed at the scrappiness of this team. They are also complete in terms of hitting. Only problem this year is their setter. But if Papa manages to be more creative and connect more with her players, FEU can win a lot of games. Love the improvement of Casugod, Palma and Pons! I think they have a strong chance of making the Final Four. X-Factors this weekend: Palma and Casugod

AdU

Totally underestimated this team. They still have a fighting chance but they are not as complete as the past years. Offense revolves around Villanueva, Paat and Galanza. Floor defense is still there and blocking improved. They need to involve middles in terms of scoring. Shaky setting also which really made them predictable. X-Factors this weekend: Paat and Galanza

NU

Improved a lot this year. Better floor defense. Everyone’s really diving for the ball. Jaja Santiago is the new leader and she didn’t fail to deliver. Mandapat and Pablo are good supports. General is the most impressive. If they will play better and not be demoralized when they are down, I think they will still beat a lot of teams. They were just unfortunate since they had to face a really strong team in the opening game. X-Factors this weekend: Santiago and General

La Salle

I was surprised at first because La Salle is not as active in the court as before. Blocking is definitely there but floor defense isn’t. Galang needs more support aside from Cruz. Setting is a little slow but can be improved if they receive better. Middles were not utilized so I can’t say if Reyes or Dy improved or not. Cheng improved a lot and will be a good offensive option this season. Let’s see in the coming games how La Salle will play. X-Factors this weekend: Galang and Cruz

Ateneo

Played like a well-oiled machine this weekend. Everyone contributed. Floor defense and mean serving are still there, blocking improved a bit and they have more options now. Middles were not utilized much but setting was super commendable. Surprised with their improvement in Vertical leap and quickness. Amazing combination plays and movement in the court. Teamwork and happy playing were evident. There were less errors too unlike last year or in the past offseason games. If they will continue to play this way, they will dominate. X-Factors this weekend: Valdez, Morado, De Leon, Lazaro and De Jesus

It’s still the opening. A lot of things will definitely happen. These are just first looks. So don’t worry. 🙂

I totally underestimated Adamson.U

UAAP Women’s Volleyball full 1st round schedule

Just got this schedule from my good friend and this year’s team captain of the Ateneo Lady Eagles Dzi Gervacio (of course with her permission)! Thank You Dzi and Good Luck!

Like I said, it’s gonna be one hell of an opening weekend! Might just be the best opening weekend in UAAP Volleyball in so many years I have been watching. All games could go up to 5 sets!

Good Luck to all teams and have a good season!

Thoughts on TV5’s Premier Volleyball League (Pro League for Women’s Volleyball)

So the latest buzz  in volleyball community is the intention of TV5 to actually have a professional volleyball league for women’s volleyball players. A lot of people are excited about this because we can see the legendary players of different UAAP, NCAA and WNCAA teams playing again. Some rivalries will be renewed but most likely, majority of the players will play with players from other teams. I highly doubt that one corporate team will be school-based. Of course, as much as possible, these teams want to get the best players they can get so the line-ups will be mixed for sure. It will also be fun to see them play together, especially the players of UST and FEU, Ateneo and La Salle and many other players who are involved in a rivalry.

I also like the intention of TV5 that they will not compete against Shakey’s. I guess it’s enough for Shakey’s to continue on what they do best; host the collegiate games with guest players, and maybe leave all the professional duties to TV5’s Premier Volleyball League. After all, they became famous because of these collegiate teams. I say just let Shakey’s continue in nurturing and improving these players through these leagues so that in their own mother leagues or just through playing random games, they will still showcase amazing volleyball skills. Shakey’s has done enough already in promoting volleyball and we are all so grateful for that. Because of them, the NCAA and UAAP volleyball games are now televised and they are played in bigger venues. So yes, without Shakey’s, let’s face it, volleyball would still be nothing in the Philippines. It has been a one-man team for Shakey’s and I guess, it’s time for the other entities to step up and contribute in this stage to promote volleyball even more.

Having a professional league is a very good move especially for Philippine Volleyball. This move will not only make volleyball even more popular but it will also help boost the quality of the games and talent here in the country. I think Philippines is lagging in terms of skills because of the fact that after the UAAP, NCAA or WNCAA, we don’t have any more leagues that these “legendary” players can play in. Sure there is an Open Conference in the V-League or other minor leagues, but these leagues are only short-time leagues which is why the skills don’t get developed. Instead of having constant training, and also getting more exposure through the games or maybe even through foreign coaches and players, we are just limited to a 3-month league.

Of course, these things result to the players not being in shape in time for certain tournaments. I remember Suzanne Roces’s case in her guest player stint with Ateneo last summer; she wasn’t in condition because she rested for like months since her last tournament was last September 2011, which is why she had a hard time playing and keeping up with the Ateneo Lady Eagles. It was only in Sandugo that she was able to regain her old form and body back. From this, we can already say that we really need a pro league, one where there would be a lot of conferences to play in. With constant exposure and training and support from different teams, our players will be able to enhance their skills and play on a higher level.

Aside from these, I really think having a professional league will contribute in having a very competitive National Team. This is what the Turks did before in their Aroma Turkish Leagues; they hired a couple of foreign coaches and players to play in their league and in return, they were able to learn from them in terms of skills, training and many other things. Needless to say, it was a mutual sort of thing. Of course, these foreign players and coaches contributed well in helping Turkey in their program, but Turkey also helped them financially by paying a good amount of money. I guess we can all start from here and mirror their program to ours. After all, Turkey was not in the volleyball scene before and just recently, they having been reaping their efforts by winning 3rd place in the FIVB World Grand Prix. The progress is not that fast. It was a slow thing and they had to take several steps before they accomplished this. It took approximately 5 years for them to achieve this. Of course, it involves a lot of money, and that’s where the sponsors here in the Philippines can come in!

Hopefully, with MVP’s support and all the other sports aficionados who are rich, maybe we can also tap foreign coaches and players to replicate what Turkey has done. Of course, these things do not only pertain to the foreigners but also the local players who should have very good compensation to be motivated to play and to choose to play volleyball after graduating instead of the usual work. For the players to get motivated, I say make them earn like 50,000 pesos a month. That is enough I guess considering that the PBA companies pay their players roughly around 200,000 pesos a month. So compared to that, this is still a cheap investment. It just really needs the passion and willingness of these people to support the sport. If we follow these, then we can see a much improved volleyball for the Philippines. With proper exposure, it will also motivate the kids, especially the girls, to play volleyball and to hone their skills as early as 7 or 8.

It’s really nice to see people working together for Philippine volleyball. I can’t wait for this and I am so excited about it. I really hope it will be successful! It’s really time to put volleyball on the map among Filipinos!