international volleyball

PH gears up for 32-team 2025 FIVB Men’s World Championship solo host gig

JR Isaga

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PH gears up for 32-team 2025 FIVB Men’s World Championship solo host gig

HIT. Philippines’ Bryan Bagunas attacks against Indonesia as Marck Espejo looks on.


The PNVF prepares for the herculean task of housing 32 of the world's best men's volleyball teams ahead of the Philippines' historic 2025 FIVB World Championship solo hosting

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is preparing for one of its biggest sporting events yet after it won solo bidding rights for the 2025 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in September 2025 – the country’s first-ever hosting of the sport at the world level.

Essentially the equivalent of the World Cup in basketball and football, next year’s World Championship will feature the 32 best teams in the globe to compete for ultimate volleyball supremacy, and the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) is pulling out all stops for the huge task at hand.

“In hosting world events, we are really ready already. This is the first time the Philippines will host a single hosting. The FIBA [World Cup] was co-hosted by Japan and Indonesia with a 16-8-8 [country split]. We now have 32, and the last World Championships in Poland only had 24,” said PNVF chief Tats Suzara.

“We now have 32 teams, including the Philippines, so we need to be global now. Hosting this World Championship for the first time is really good for the sport of volleyball and good for the fans.”

Locked in a fierce final bidding battle with Japan and Indonesia, the Philippines reportedly gained the edge it needed, per Suzara, with its current three-year hosting streak of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) since 2022.

“Filipino fans are different, and the FIVB noticed. You see [them watch] Japan, which is very popular here, and Poland. This time the USA is coming in the VNL. Filipino fans are different,” Suzara continued. “I think that’s one important aspect that we won the bid, so they really selected the Philippines.”

Now the heavy work begins for the PNVF, which has about a year and a half to iron out its preparations, both in terms of the national team and the hosting itself.

Former VNL venues Mall of Asia Arena and Araneta Coliseum will house the World Championship games, with MOA being the main venue for the elimination round and finals.

“It shows that volleyball is very active in our country with lots of supporters and stakeholders,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino. “Now it’s another opportunity to showcase our country through  sports.”

Comprising the Philippine coaching staff who will assemble the best team possible for 2025 are head coach Sergio Veloso, assistant coach Odjie Mamon, and the returning Dante Alinsunurin, who will likely aid Veloso as the main deputy.

“The timeline that we are preparing for the team is starting next month once the Spikers’ Turf tournament is completed, then the team will start. Of course, this is a big pool of players that we need to select,” Suzara said.

“We have one year and a half, and part of the agreement of FIVB is to bring our team to more competitions. As you know, we have improved our ranking, from 117 last year to 56 in the world now. Hopefully, we can be No. 32 or No. 20+ next year in the World Championship.”

Ideally, the national team members will be chosen around September 2024, as the PNVF will also hold a “one-year countdown tournament” featuring at least three Japanese teams to play against the Philippines’ best.

Players to watch out for in this newest iteration of the national team are the likes of Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas, Jau Umandal, and returning star setter Owa Retamar.

Head coach Veloso insisted, however, that he would not play favorites, and everyone in the pool will have an equal shot at making the World Championship roster. –

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