MANILA, Philippines – Bryan Bagunas will be bringing over his experience in Japan once he joins the Philippine national team in preparation for the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games later this year.
Playing in one of the top countries in volleyball, Bagunas picked up a number of learnings that he hopes to share with the rest of his teammates.
"Yung Japan league kasi, more on high class na talaga… Nandoon na yung mga players na naglalaro sa Olympics," Bagunas told The Game.
"Sobrang advanced na talaga ng volleyball doon. Ang daming matututunan na pwedeng i-apply dito sa Pilipinas," he added.
Bagunas suited up for Oita Myoshi in the V. League. And while his team was less than a powerhouse in the tournament, he did not come home empty-handed.
He also goes as far as encouraging his national team teammates to follow the same path and play overseas too.
"Sobrang [ine-encourage] ko, lalo na nga sa teammates ko sa national team na kapag may opportunities, sinasabi ko i-grab nila," said Bagunas.
"Kasi sobrang laking bagay noon para dalhin dito sa Pilipinas para umangat talaga ‘yung men’s volleyball team," he added.
The men's national team has made a leap in recent years with a stunning silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games here in Manila.
Bagunas hopes to build on this when the biennial meet comes around anew later this year.
"Malaki ang pangarap ko para sa men's volleyball sa Pilipinas," said Bagunas.
"Nasimulan na namin, kailangan talagang magtuloy-tuloy," he added.
Per national team head coach Dante Alinsunirin, Bagunas is reportedly "always part of the team no matter what" — this despite the former National University standout missing the tryouts last April 29.
Bagunas had suffered an MCL injury on his right knee late March when he was still in the V. League.
The two-time UAAP Finals MVP felt more than grateful for the trust from his coach.
"Talagang goosebumps sa akin kasi nandoon talaga yung tiwala ng coaching staff sa akin," said Bagunas.
"Talagang pinagkakatiwalaan nila ako kahit injured ako," he added.
Bagunas has said that he expects to be back healthy and at a 100% in a month.
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