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So far, so good for PH belles

OSAKA, Japan – The Philippine women’s volleyball team checked into this bustling Japanese city Tuesday, armed with the burning desire to improve its game and bring the country back to international prominence.

It is the second leg of the National’s grueling 17-day training.

The first phase in Okayama City had been very productive with noted mentor Akiyoshi Kawamoto, two-time Olympian Mai Yamaguchi and the elite Okayama Seagulls whipping the Nationals to fighting condition.

A good teacher and motivator who once served as head coach of Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand, Kawamoto trained the Nationals for three hours in the morning followed by friendly matches in the afternoon.

In particular, Kawamoto sharpened the Filipinos’ blocking and floor defense in preparation for the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games this August.

The Seagulls dominated the Filipinos in their final tuneup match; 25-20, 25-23, 25-20.

“Your team is good, you have a lot of very good players, but there are some minor lapses you have to improve. If you can correct that, your team has the possibility to win,” Kawamoto told national team head coach Francis Vicente at the end of this camp bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission and Rebisco, and sanctioned by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc.

Vicente stressed that they are not looking at the scores, but on the improvement of the team.

“We’re not after victory in these training tune up matches, we’re after the lessons that we will gain,” said Vicente, who also handles Generika-Ayala in the Philippine Superliga.

“So far, so good. Coach Kawamoto pointed out the common mistakes and bad habits that we tend to commit. He corrected our form in blocking and defensive pattern as well as our approach in attacks. It was very productive.”

The Osaka camp is tipped to be equally grueling as the Nationals face younger and more aggressive university teams like Ryokoku University, Osaka University of HSS and reigning PSL Invitational Conference champion Kobe Shinwa University.

A couple of club teams, including the Osaka Superiors, are also scheduled to challenge the Nationals.

“We will apply all the lessons we gained from the Seagulls against other teams here in Osaka,” he said. “We will keep on working. Winning is not an overnight process.”

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