PHL hosts eight elite teams in Vball nationals league

PHL hosts eight elite teams in Vball nationals league
READY TO GO. The team captains and coaches who will compete in the VNL men’s volleyball competition pose after their press conference in Makati City hotel. / CONTRIBUTED

THE world of volleyball watches as the Philippines hosts eight elite teams in Week 3 of the Volleyball Nationals League (VNL) men’s tournament on June 18, 2024 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“Volleyball has made huge strides in the country in the past few years and we strive to continue to perform,” Ramon “Tats” Suzara, president of the organizing Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF), said in a press conference at the Makati Shangri La Hotel Monday.

“We strike while the iron is hot and the PNVF is grateful to all those involved, our players who are the stars of the show, to those working behind the scenes from top national and team officials to the referees, to the tireless people in the sub-committees,” Suzara added.

Reigning Olympic champion France (world No. 7), fan favorites Japan (No. 3) and USA (No. 5) headline the cast along with No. 4 Brazil, No. 11 Germany, No. 12 Canada, No. 13 The Netherlands and No. 17 Iran.

The VNL aptly precedes the country’s first-time solo hosting of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship next year.

Team USA, led by 2023 VNL Best Setter Micah Christenson, will mark its Manila debut with high anticipation from local fans.

France (No. 4), Japan (No. 5), Brazil (No. 6) and Canada (No. 7) currently sit inside the Top 8 of the VNL standings after two legs with reigning world champion Italy, Slovenia and Poland leading the race so far.

Germany, USA, the Netherlands and Team USA sit at 11th, 12th, 13th and 16th place, respectively – making it an expected fiery action as they aim to climb the ladder entering the homestretch of the preliminary phase.

The Netherlands and Brazil roll the red carpet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday followed by the main game between Japan and Canada at 8:30 p.m.

Germany and France then take the court at 3 p.m. before the duel between USA and Iran at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s our first year here. We felt a lot of love online and on social media from Filipino fans so be finally be here and experience it first hand is our pleasure,” USA captain Christenson said. “We’re excited to experience it all.”

“We’re happy to be here again and we’re excited to play in front of Filipino fans,” added Japan’s ace Yuki Ishikawa, one of the two Best Outside Hitters in the last VNL finals.

Only the Top 8 teams will qualify in the VNL Final Round in Poland but there’s more to it than those coveted spots.

With the VNL serving as the final volleyball tournament before the Paris Olympics, five tickets based on the FIVB World Rankings are up for grabs among the determined squads, especially to those who haven’t qualified yet.

Only seven countries – host France, Germany, Brazil, USA, Japan, Poland and Canada – have booked their Olympic seats so far.

That should be enough heat to fire up the remaining squads in front of no less than Filipino fans raring to see them up close and strut their stuff in the biggest stage.

“It’s amazing to be here again. Teams are preparing for the Olympics to we’ll have the best games in the world this week here in the VNL,” beamed Brazil setter Bruno Rezende. / PR

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