international volleyball

Filipino fan fever for Japan, US justifies VNL hosting anew despite no PH squad

JR Isaga

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Filipino fan fever for Japan, US justifies VNL hosting anew despite no PH squad

PACKED. A view of the 2024 Men's VNL preliminaries finale between Japan and the USA at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.


Passionate Filipino fans again give many reasons for the Volleyball Nations League to return to the country, with the Japan-USA blockbuster duel drawing a crowd of over 12,000 to cap a vastly successful weeklong run

MANILA, Philippines – It has been said many times in the past few years that volleyball has experienced a stratospheric growth of support in the Philippines.

Whether from the UAAP or PVL, fans have swarmed venues in and out of Metro Manila in ways never yet seen in further years past.

This was once again proven in the 2024 Men’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) hosting of the Philippines, the country’s third straight, as it welcomed eight of the world’s best national teams.

Bannered by three-time Manila visitor Japan, and debutant USA, all squads have received practically consistent support despite good-seating tickets selling for around P2,000 to P8,000.

With fiery middle blocker Taylor Averill bellowing “Mahal ko kayo! (‘We love you all!’)” multiple times in the background, USA libero Eric Shoji – like many players before him – again professed his love for the Filipino fans trooping to the Mall of Asia Arena and painstakingly waiting for them in the fan zone.

“It’s the best experience that I think we’ve had in the VNL in a while. Obviously, we wanted to win today, but the crowd was awesome. It was a strange game for both teams as you can see, but Japan was a little bit better than us,” said Shoji after being the lone usual starter to play in Japan’s sweep of USA, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, on Sunday, June 23.

Albeit a bit dampened by both Olympic-bound squads benching their entire starting lineups due to lack of stakes on the line, 12,424 fans still packed the Mall of Asia Arena and cheered their hearts out for both teams’ bench players.

This came on the heels of more than 11,000 fans watching a full-force Japan side rising from the dead and pulling off a five-set reverse sweep of France to stay in VNL playoffs contention, 17-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-10, on Saturday, June 22.

Japan now heads to the knockout playoffs in Lodz starting this Thursday, June 27, alongside host nation Poland, defending Olympic champion France, Slovenia, Italy, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. –

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