THE build up for Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) shifted to high gear, as Asian powerhouse Thailand and Japan arrived Tuesday for the June 14 to 19, 2022 VNL Quezon City women's leg at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Week 2 of the men's event will be from June 21-26 also at the Big Dome.
The Philippines is hosting the world's biggest volleyball event for the first time as the country pulls all the stops for the successful staging of the VNL.
"The VNL is only one of the top 16 teams in the world. So, we are not there, but I hope some day, we will be there, and we will be a world-class team like Thailand," said Philippine National Volleyball Federation President Ramon "Tats" Suzara during Tuesday's presser at the Big Dome’s Green Gate lobby.
Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, representing Mayor Joy Belmonte, was also present in the VNL press conference and said that the host city will provide the antigen tests for all the participants, as well as ambulance in the venue.
"We are here to make sure everything will be safe," said Sotto.
Japan, which went perfect in four matches in the opening week in Shreveport-Bossier City in the United States, leads the women's cast, which also includes Tokyo Olympics gold medalist USA, Belgium, Thailand, China, Bulgaria, Poland and Canada.
Despite the stunning five-set loss to the Thais in Ankara, Turkey, the Chinese hold second place at 3-1 with 10 points. Also sporting a 3-1 record, Americans are sitting in fourth place with nine points.
Thailand and Poland, with identical 3-1 records, have eight points each, Canada tallied a 2-2 slate, while Belgium and Bulgaria will head the Quezon City leg with a 1-3 card.
Fan favorite Japan banners the men's cast, which also has Argentina, Slove, Netherlands, France, China, Italy and Germany. They are playing in Ottawa, Canada and Brasilia, Brazil for the opening week of the men's VNL.
Suzara said the Japan and Thailand women's teams are arriving early as part of their VNL build-up, as they play the Philippine national team in the PNVF International Challenge this weekend at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Filipinas will play the Thais at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and the Japanese at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the San Juan arena.
The Philippine men's national team will have its turn against Japan on June 16 at 4 p.m., and Germany on June 27 at 4 p.m.
Suzara says tickets for the VNL games, especially for the Japan men's matches, are selling well.
There have been challenges logistically since a lot of the playing and broadcast equipment to be used will be coming from out of the country, but Suzara said everything is going smoothly. (PR)