Home Sports For just P15,000 each to play, Alas Pilipinas earns fans’ hearts

For just P15,000 each to play, Alas Pilipinas earns fans’ hearts

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SCHEDULE: Alas Pilipinas at the AVC Challenge Cup 2024

Alas Pilipinas AVC Challenge Cup 2024

The tightly knit Alas Pilipinas celebrate sa four-set win over Iran in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024 Saturday night. —MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

There’s no doubt that the latest toast of Philippine sports is Alas Pilipinas, that intrepid women’s volleyball team made up of a merry mix of professional and collegiate stars which has so far gone undefeated in the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup.

The Filipinos are in the semifinals for the first time in 63 years—the farthest any PH team, men or women, has gone in the tournament’s history.

So what did it take for the country to assemble such an endeared team that plays its heart out each night? The better question would be: At what cost did it take for this team to give near sell-out crowds at Rizal Memorial Coliseum that kind of thrill each night?

READ: AVC Cup: Alas Pilipinas completes Pool A sweep ahead of semis

Certainly cheap once one gets to know the figures.

“You didn’t get it from me, but it’s P15,000 per player for the whole tournament,” an unimpeachable Inquirer source, who talked on the condition that he remains unidentified, said Sunday afternoon, hours before the Filipinos were to square off with winless Chinese Taipei to sweep Pool A action.

“All of them just want to give their best for the country, and all of them are appreciative of the love they get from the fans,” the source, who attends every practice—and every game—since the team was formed two weeks ago, continued.

READ: Jia De Guzman is ace up Alas Pilipinas sleeve

“No one has a hidden agenda, they all just want to play and win this thing.”

The biggest reason why the Filipinos are firing on all cylinders offensively is Jia de Guzman, the brilliant setter who is in the midst of negotiating a contract extension with the Denso Airybees in the Japanese pro league.

Could have said no

Jia De Guzman Alas Pilipinas AVC Challenge Cup 2024

Alas Pilipinas setter Jia De Guzman against India in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

With the season in Japan ending just a week before the team was formed, the 29-year-old could have simply turned her back on national duty to rest.

“It didn’t take a lot to convince her,” the source said of De Guzman, a member of the national team since 2015 when she was still starring for Ateneo in the UAAP. “It certainly wasn’t the money (for the tournament). She was all-in the moment it (playing) was mentioned to her.

“She demanded nothing.”

And the fact that De Guzman was in right from the start obviously triggered a domino effect, as practically all the others that the Philippine National Volleyball Federation and the PVL approached readily said yes.

READ: AVC Cup: Angel Canino-Eya Laure tandem powering Alas Pilipinas

“There’s nothing better than playing for the flag,” De Guzman had told reporters after a four-set win over India Friday night. “It just feels great. It’s a totally different feeling playing on home soil, in front of home fans.”

Angel Canino, Eya Laure and Sisi Rondina have been on the firing end of the PH offense thanks to the sterling quarterbacking of De Guzman. Libero Dawn Macandili-Catindig has also been superb like middle blockers Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma.

All the others have had their shining moments in the first three games, thanks to a team effort no one saw coming considering how hastily the team was formed.



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And of course, that genuine love for the flag is the main thing that drives this team.





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