BACK FOR MORE | VNL coaches, players ready to bring volleyball madness in Pasay

A crucial VNL leg beckons at the MOA Arena. Jonathan Salvacion
By John Rhey Piamonte

MAKATI--A day before the official start of the much-anticipated return of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) in the country, the coaches and team captains of the eight participating teams gathered in a press conference at the Makati Shangri-La Ballroom. 

Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) spearheaded the event with federation president Ramon "Tats" Suzara welcoming the teams back in Manila.

After a consecutive successful hosting of the VNL, eight teams will participate in a thrilling six-day volleyball action at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay from June 18-23.

Headlining the list is the crowd-favorite Japan team who put on a spectacle in last year's edition. Team captain Yuki Ishikawa, Ran Takahashi, and Yuji Nishida are all expected to play yet again in front of their Filipino fans. 

"I'm just so happy to be here again. Just really excited to play in front of our Filipino fans," Ishikawa said in the press conference. "This week is big for us, for the rankings, so we will do our best for every game," he added.

Moreover, team USA, another popular team for volleyball supporters here in the country, will play for the first time in Manila. 

"It's our first year here. Throughout my career, I can speak for my whole team when I say that we felt a lot of love online and on social media from the Filipino fans. So, to finally be here and experience it for the first time, it's a pleasure," Team USA captain Micah Christenson uttered.

Completing the line-up are the 2021 champion Brazil, '22 winner France, world no. 11 Germany, ranked no. 12 Canada, Netherlands, and team Iran, who will also make their first appearance here in the Philippines.

PNVF head Suzara also reaffirmed the country's hosting of the 2025 FIVB Men's World Championships, featuring the 32 best teams in the world competing in the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena. 

"This third staging won't be the last because next year we would like to welcome you as for the first time the Philippines will host the 2025 FIVB Men's World Championships."

According to the coaches and team captains, the third week of the VNL is very important, especially for those who are still looking forward to qualifying in the final week in Poland.

This competition is also important for Olympic-qualified teams as this will be their last international competition before the Olympic volleyball games in Paris from July 26-Aug. 11.

With a report from Jonathan Salvacion.

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