MANILA, Philippines — Marck Espejo hopes all Filipino aspirants will make it to the Asian Quota of the Korean V-League.
After leading Cignal to a 15-game sweep of the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference, Espejo will shift his focus on the April 25 tryouts in Jeju Island.
Espejo and his Cignal teammates Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan as well as Conference MVP Jau Umandal are among the 32 Asian players invited to try out by the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO).
“I hope we’ll make it but for now we need to recover. We will do our best and I hope all of us will be selected,” said Espejo after delivering 26 points and 34 excellent receptions in their title-clinching 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 28-30, 15-7 win over Cotabato on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
All the Filipino aspirants won individual awards in the Spikers’ Turf with Espejo emerging as Finals MVP and Umandal winning the Conference MVP. Bugaoan was the 1st Best Middle Blocker and Sumanguid earned the Best Libero.
Being invited to try out is already an achievement but the five-time league MVP hopes all of them will break the ground in South Korea for more Filipino players.
“This is already a huge achievement for Philippine volleyball because other countries are considering Filipino men’s volleyball players as imports. I hope one of us will make it,” Espejo said.
Espejo made a ground-breaking debut in Japan V.League in 2018 with Oita Miyoshi before taking his act to Thailand with the Visakha volleyball club. He also played in Bahrain from 2020 to 2021 before returning to Japan with FC Tokyo.
Winning the Spikers’ Turf title is a huge morale booster for Espejo before his tryout next month.
“It’s a new achievement for me and personally I will be happy going to Korea because of these [achievements]. For now, I will enjoy this championship and recover. We’ll see what will happen in the tryouts,” he said.
Espejo begged off from playing for the Philippine men’s volleyball team in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May. Taiwan Top League MVP and champion Bryan Bagunas is also skipping.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.