By Jean Malanum

SECOND LEG. Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon “Tats” Suzara (seated, center) with Seda Nuvali general manager Armand Angeles (seated, left) and secretary-general Donaldo Caringal (seated, right) pose with the team coaches and captains of Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia during the SEA VLeague press conference at the Seda Nuvali on July 27, 2023. The tournament will start on Friday at the City of Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna. (PNA photo by Jean Malanum)

MANILA – The Philippines will try to get back at Thailand when they meet on Friday (July 28) during the second leg of the inaugural Southeast Asia (SEA) Volleyball League at the City of Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.

The Filipinos, led by veterans Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, will face the Thais at 7 p.m. after the Vietnam-Indonesia match at 4 p.m.

Also expected to deliver is rising star Steven Rotter, named Best Opposite Spiker during the first leg of the tournament hosted by Jakarta where the Nationals fell to the Thais, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20.

“They’re experienced players. They are smart. They can share their experiences with others. We can make a stronger job. I feel we can play better now,” national men’s team head coach Sergio Veloso said during the SEA VLeage press conference at the Seda Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Thursday.

The Philippines will take on Indonesia on July 29 and Vietnam on July 30.

Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon “Tats” Suzara said: “Men’s volleyball is getting popular and we’re very happy to have our close neighbors with us here. We hope to expand next year with more countries.”

“This tournament is very important for Southeast Asia as we, the Philippines along with Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, are bidding to host the 2025 Volleyball Women’s World Championship,” he added. 

The SEA VLeague — presented by PLDT and backed by the City of Santa Rosa, Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, One Sports and Cignal —  is a brainchild of Suzara and Thailand federation president Shanrit Wongprasert.

Indonesia, bannered by MVP Fahry Septian Putratama, swept the first leg while Thailand and Vietnam finished second and third, respectively.

The SEA VLeague women’s division will be held on Aug. 4 to 6 in Vihn Phuc, Vietnam, and from Aug. 11 to 13 in Chiangmai, Thailand. (PNA)