The Philippine beach volleyball teams set in motion their bid for Tokyo Olympic berths in the semifinals of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup on Friday in Nakhom Pathom, Thailand.
Bannered by Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, the women’s team will have its hands full against powerhouse Japan and New Zealand, with the men facing the same daunting task against Australia, Japan, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.
The other women’s pair of Dij Rodriguez and Babylove Barbon as well as the men’s tandems of Jaron Requinton and James Buytrago and Jude Garcia and Anthony Arbasto complete the Philippine campaign backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine National Volleyball Federation partner Rebisco. Rondina, the most experienced on the team having competed in the Rio 2014 qualifiers, said she will be treating every match like a championship game.
“In this set up, it’s a do or die game because one win, you’re in the final, and one loss, you’re out,” Rondina said. “This is a rare opportunity for us, facing very strong teams because we’ve been battling teams in the Southeast Asian regions.”
Charo Soriano, PNVF’s beach volleyball commission chair, thanked the federation’s supporters as the country goes for potential berths in Tokyo.
“It’s really a collaborative effort among the PSC, PNVF, Rebisco, Taguig City, Ilocos Norte and all those who are supporting the sport,” Soriano said. “I have much respect for everyone who planned, strategized and made this opportunity possible for our athletes.”
The Philippines, according to PNVF President Ramon “Tats” Suzara, qualified for the Continental Cup semifinals by virtue of the bronze medal finishes in both the men’s and women’s divisions in the 2019 SEA Games.
Only the No. 1 teams in both genders will advance to the Tokyo Olympics. The finals are set on June 24.
This is the country’s first international competition in volleyball since the 2019 SEA Games and also for the PNVF since its establishment in January.
Joining the players and Soriano are national coaches Paul Jan Doloiras and Rhovyl Verayo as well as alternates Gen Eslapor and Mer Jauculan.
The Continental Cup is being played under strict safety and health protocols. The pairings will be determined after Thursday’s general technical meeting.