MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women's volleyball team took its first step back to international prominence when they flew to Japan on Monday afternoon, kicking off their preparation for two major international tournaments ahead.
Bannered by skipper Mika Reyes, the national team left past noon via Philippine Airlines flight 408 bound for Osaka. They will then take a three-hour train ride to the western city of Okayama.
In Okayama, the national team will have go through six hours of training daily, together with Japan V. Premier League powerhouse Okayama Seagulls until July 25.
After that, the nationals will then move their training camp back to Osaka for a series of friendlies against noted club and university teams, like Ryokoku University, Osaka Superiors, Osaka University of HSS, and Kobe Shinwa University.
Kobe Shinwa memorably reigned supreme in the Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference recently.
The team returns to Manila on August 2, and open its campaign in the AVC Asian Senior Women's Championship on August 9 at the Alonte Sports Center in Biñan City and the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
"Our main objective is to polish our floor defense and blocking, as well as our mental preparation," said AVC marketing and development committee chairman Ramon "Tats" Suzara.
Training in Japan was a staple of the preparation of the Philippine national team during its golden age in the 1990s.
Former team captain Nene Ybanez-Chavez, now a part of the national team's coaching staff, said the Japanese coaches harnessed their skills and character to perfection, propelling them to a glorious finish in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore in 1993.
She also recalled that the training was so brutal, that she passed out three times while an angry Japanese trainer hit her teammate, Leonora Escollante, for failing to follow directions.
But head coach Francis Vicente is hopeful that the star-studded national team can not only survive, but thrive, in their training.
"We have to prepare, because this is going to be tough," he said. "But I told the team that if the only way to bring back the country to Asian volleyball map is through this kind of training, then so be it."
"I'm sure they will all work hard to survive it."
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