A series of exhibition games will be in store for the Philippine national men’s and women’s teams before the start of the Manila leg of the FIVB Volleyball National League Week 2.
Top-caliber women’s squads from Thailand and Japan arrived on Tuesday, a week ahead of their scheduled matches in the women’s division of the VNL, a series of tournaments formerly known as the World League and the World Grand Prix.
And they are set to play Team Pilipinas on June 11 and 12 at The Arena in San Juan, a few days before the Thais and the Japanese plunge into action against an elite VNL cast, led by Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Team USA.
Joining Team USA are China, Japan, Belgium, Thailand, Bulgaria, Poland and Canada.
The men’s side includes Tokyo Olympics champion France and bronze medalist Argentina, together with Slovenia, Netherland, Japan, China, Italy and Germany.
“World-class volleyball action is back in the country. This is the first time that the Philippines is hosting the VNL. As you know, we have been hosting the World Grand Prix,” said Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, as he launched the VNL’s staging with Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto.
The Philippine side won’t be fielding a single team since only the top 16 squads in the world can join.
But the Philippine men’s team will clash in tuneup matches with Japan and Germany later on June 15 and 27.
“We are happy to have it at the Araneta Coliseum. And this will be a two-week event for the men’s and women’s divisions,” added Suzara.
Quezon City is one of four cities playing host in the men’s and women’s division of the VNL.
Week 1 was held in Shreveport-Bossier City, USA and Ankara, Turkey from May 31 to June 5.
Action is now in Week 2 in Brasilia, Brazil and in Quezon City from June 14 to 9. Calgary, Canada and Sofia, Bulgaria will play hosts to Week 3 from June 28 to July 3.
The men’s pool play has already started in Brasilia and in the Canadian capital Ottawa as matches are slated from June 7 to 12.
Quezon City and Sofia have already welcomed the 16 participating teams for Week 2 from June 21 to 26.
Osaka, Japan and Gdansk, Poland will next host Week 3 from July 5 to 10.
The competition will conclude in the women’s finals in Ankara from July 13 to 17.
The men’s championship is in Bologna, and will be played from July 20 to 24.
The Quezon City government will help in the hosting the of the games through COVID-19 antigen testing, according to Sotto, with the prevention of the spread of the virus in mind.