Jia De Guzman relishes playing with ‘talented’ Alas Pilipinas

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Jia De Guzman hugs Julia Coronel after Alas Pilipinas copped bronze in the AVC Challenge CUp 2024. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Alas Pilipinas team captain Jia De Guzman credited the country’s first AVC medal to her teammates and coaches after turning an insufficient preparation time into a historic Challenge Cup campaign.

De Guzman and Alas captured the bronze — the Philippines’ best finish in any AVC tournaments in 63 years — after dominating Australia, 25-23, 25-15, 25-7, in the Challenge Cup on Wednesday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

More than capturing the bronze, the veteran setter’s most special moment is being with this young and promising team.

READ: Alas Pilipinas wins AVC Challenge Cup bronze, beats Australia anew

“It’s playing with everyone in the team. As in. I’m just really blessed to be able to play with such talented girls from different generations, a very talented coaching staff,” said De Guzman. “I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to be the leader of this team, it was such a great team.”

It was a fulfilling journey for De Guzman and the team as they swept four games in Pool A to reach the semis — the farthest the Philippine team entered in any AVC tournament — before losing to Kazakhstan in the knockout match, less than 24 hours ago.

But it didn’t stop the team from ending the tournament in historic fashion as De Guzman activated the trio of Angel Canino, Sisi Rondina, and Eya Laure to bounce back in front of overwhelming fan support.

READ: For just P15,000 each to play, Alas Pilipinas players Earn fans’ hearts

“We only had a few days to prepare as a team. The maximum of having all the members was three days. But we wanted to learn in this tournament and improve and learn a lesson every game. And we took it because this tournament was a good learning opportunity,” said the Denso AiryBees setter.

It was a surreal moment for De Guzman to make history with this young team but she’s hoping that this will be the start of a long-term program, which would continue to reach greater heights for Philippine volleyball.

“We’re really hopeful, we’re looking forward to more preparations for the upcoming tournaments that we will play in. We just hope na now we just keep improving and move up,” she said.



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