Manila, Philippines, April 7, 2014 – Underdog teams are hoping to pull off surprises as they warned the favourites against complacency in the PLDT Home Fibr 2014 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, which is set to start on April 8 at the Mall of Asia Arena and the Cuneta Astrodome.
Hosts the Philippines are represented by the PLDT Home Tvolution team, who take on Mongolia's Altain Bars club after the opening ceremony, while Vietnamese club Ducl Long Gia Lai face off with Lebanon's Zahraa Al Minaa in Pool B.
Another highlight on the first day of the competition is the match between the 2013 edition's runners-up Al-Rayyanrom Qatar and Turkmenistan side Migrasiya.
In another match in Pool C, Kazakhstan's Kondensat-Zhaikmunay will play against Hong Kong's Green Dragon, while Papua New Guinea's Amoa NCD will play the Chinese Taipei team.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea are first-time competitors in the annual club tournament, where the champion team will earn a spot to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Coaches of the six teams are united in saying that they may not be tall compared to the more established squads but they are able to compensate with their speed and athleticism.
“We’re here to participate and benefit from our experience. I know there are a lot of tough teams in this tournament and all I can say is that we treat every team with respect, and we want to give our best to have a wonderful experience,” said Lebanon coach Simon Atallah during Monday’s press conference.
Papua New Guinea mentor Tommy Luikila, who brought along the core of the gold-medal winning team in last year’s Wallis and Futuna Pacific Games in Mata-Utu, said being a newcomer in the tournament works to their advantage.
“The gold medal is history,” he noted. “That was last year. This is a new tournament with a new set of opponents. We’re just looking forward to playing our best. Being a new team in this tournament will slightly work to our advantage since the other teams don’t have any idea about how we play.
“We don’t have the height like the other teams but we compensate for that with speed and our athleticism. We’re also using this tournament as our preparation for the 2015 Pacific Games, which will be hosted by Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.”
Philippines' coach Francis Vicente, meanwhile, is hoping that their two-week training against top Korean teams in Suwon has prepared them well.
“We played 10 tune-up games and we won five. We have played against club teams in Korea plus the Korea Military volleyball team, and I believe that we have gained enough experience to play against other teams,” Vicente said.
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