Cebuano spikers flying high in national team training pool

Alyssa Rola
Cebuano spikers flying high in national team training pool
Cebuano volleyball players have adjusted to city life as they train to represent the Philippines at the upcoming SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – On a summer Thursday morning, when most people are still sound asleep, the men’s national volleyball team continued on with its regular routine at the Arellano University School of Law, training in preparation for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Although hailing from a different culture growing up, Cebuano spikers Alden Dave Cabaron and John Eduard Carascal of Southwestern University, and John Kenneth Sarcena of the University of San Carlos were all smiles as they fit right in the training pool mostly composed of NCAA and UAAP names. 

Cabaron, Carascal, and Sarcena were named to the 18-man lineup training for the SEA Games this August to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Albeit a dreaded final cut hangs in the air, the Cebu natives have already felt accomplished by gaining a spot in the Magic 18.

“Actually, nagulat lang din ako kasi sa dami namin sa 27 ata kami o 25, sa rami-rami ng marunong maglaro ng volleyball, napasama ako sa 18,” SWU Cobra Carascal shared to Rappler. 

“Siguro, dala lang ‘yun ng inspirasyon ng mga Cebuano.”

(Actually, I was shocked because out of the 27 or 25, out of all the volleyball players in the country, I was selected as part of the 18-man pool. Maybe it’s also because of the inspiration brought by my fellow Cebuanos.) 

Admittedly, the spikers didn’t have an easy time acclimating to the city life here in Manila, but with the help of the coaching staff as well as their fellow pool members, they eventually managed to cope. 

“At first, mga first two weeks medyo nahirapan because sa Manila players compared to them, malaki ‘yung difference,” said assistant coach Michael Carino. “Pero as far as 3 months na nagte-training sila dito sa national team training pool, ang laki na ng development nila.” 

(It was a bit hard during the first two weeks, because between them and the Manila players, there was a big difference. But as far as their 3-month training here in the national team training pool, their development have been huge.) 

“Actually hindi na kami iba para sa kanila. Ang dali lang naming naka-close sa kanila kahit galing kami ng ibang lugar, ibang school,” replied Carascal when asked of how they came to adjust. “Madali kaming naka-unite.” (We’re not that different from them. We easily became close with the other players even though we hail from different provinces and schools. We easily found unity.) 

“Ang gagawin lang nila is mag-adjust para umangat ‘yung game nila,” added Carino.

“[Andiyan ‘yung] sipag, tsaka ‘yung ambition nila na since galing sila sa Cebu, dapat merong mag-represent na Cebuano, na Visayas, na maglalaro sa Southeast Asian Games.” 

(The only thing they had to do was to adjust to be able to elevate their game. There’s their diligence and ambition, since they came from Cebu. It’s like there should be someone to represent the Cebuano and Visayas in the Southeast Asian Games.) 

Assistant coach Carino likewise expressed the potential he sees in the Cebuano athletes, who have kept pace with the Manila players even at the critical stage of cutting the roster down.

“From 25 players kami, imagine na-trim down to 18 and then nakasama sila. So ibig sabihin nun, ‘yung improvement na ginawa nila during noong tryouts, sobrang laki talaga. And potential talaga sila.”

(From 25 players, imagine they made it to 18. It means that they have showed a lot of improvement from the tryouts. And they really have potential.) 

Carascal knows that he and his fellow Cebuanos, despite moving a step closer to the ultimate dream of donning the Philippine colors, have some work cut out for them. 

“Siguro maging pursigido sa training,” said Carascal, who propelled SWU to the 2014 and 2015 CESAFI men’s volleyball titles alongside teammate Cabaron. “Mag-double time, kung pwede mag-triple time na makahabol sa iba kasi sobrang competitive ‘yung bawat isa sa amin eh.”

“Kailangan lalo ng self-discipline.” 

(We just need to stay determined during training. We need to double time, if not triple time, just so we can keep up because we are all competitive. Self-discipline is also a must.)

The 6-foot-4 Carascal, one of the tallest guys in the team, also delivered a message to all young aspiring athletes, especially to his kababayans back in the Queen City of the South who dream of pursuing the same path.

“Sana ipagpatuloy niyo ang paglalaro ng volleyball at mangarap kayo as high as you can.” 

(I hope you continue to play volleyball, and just dream as high as you can.)

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