Shaq Delos Santos says influx of Japanese coaches good for PVL

Cignal HD Spikers coach Shaq Delos Santos huddles his team during a timeout in the PVL All-Filipino Conference semifinals against the Choco Mucho Flying Titans on December 9, 2023.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — With Japanese coaches bolstering the program of other professional Philippine clubs, Cignal coach Shaq Delos Santos and his fellow local coaches got an opportunity to learn new things in Japan with Kurashiki Ablaze coach Hideo Suzuki ahead of the 2024 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) season.

Nxled started the trend when it tapped Japanese coach Taka Minowa for its PVL debut in the second All-Filipino Conference, where it won four games. Minowa has been also overseeing the training of Akari as the program director of both teams. 

Farm Fresh followed suit, hiring Invitational Conference champion coach Suzuki as team consultant and Master Shimizu, the Japanese trainer of the Foxies, while Petro Gazz signed Koji Tsuzurabara as its new head coach.

Delos Santos is embracing the challenge as he and his assistant coach Rico De Guzman along with Chery Tiggo coach KungFu Reyes and Lerma Giron of Galeries Tower studied the tactics and discipline of Japanese volleyball from coach Suzuki and the Kurashiki Ablaze during the University of Santo Tomas’ training camp in the country.

“Meron kaming mga nakita na pwede nating mai-apply or maa-apply namin sa team namin. I’m sure mas magiging plus para sa amin yun but we know naman na yung ibang teams merong Japanese coach talaga pero ang magiging challenge sa amin dito kung papaano namin i-maximize talaga yung team,” Delos Santos told reporters during their practice on Monday at Gameville in Mandaluyong City.

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(We saw some things that we can apply to our team. I’m sure that’s going to be a plus for us but we know other teams have Japanese coaches and the challenge for us here is how to maximize the team’s potential.)

“Sobrang okay yung technique and tactics nila, hindi lang basta nagdi-drills lang sila. Talagang dapat may knowledge ka rin talaga bago mo gawin kasi si coach Suzuki rin naman yung pinuntahan namin, yung sa Kurashiki. I’m sure hindi naman siya ganun kadaling gawin pero diskarte na namin bilang coach kung paano namin siya tatrabahuhin at pagagandahin or i-apply sa team namin,” he added.

(Their technique and tactics are really good. They’re not just doing drills. You also have to obtain knowledge on how to do these things and it’s up to us coaches on how we can work on it and elevate it when we apply it to our teams.)

Cignal HD Spikers.–MARLO CUETO/

Delos Santos, a former Philippine women’s volleyball team coach, said the arrival of Japanese coaches in the PVL is good for the league as it can bring out the best in Filipino tacticians.

“Mas macha-challenge kami as local coach na meron na dumadating na foreign coaches. Syempre para sa amin, ang laking opportunity rin ‘to na ito yung kalaban namin na coach so kailangan ma-prove din namin sa sarili namin na meron kaming kayang gawin na pwedeng manalo or pwedeng mas maging okay. Kung makaka-experience kami ng ‘di maganda, siguro absorb lang tapos laban lang nang laban at aral nang aral,” said the third-year Cignal coach. “Alam kasi natin kung ano yung kaya nilang gawin but it doesn’t mean na magpapabaya kami. Ako mas sisipagan ko, mas tatrabahuhin ko talaga na mapaganda yung takbo ng team namin.”

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(The arrival of foreign coaches makes it more challenging for us local coaches. For us, it’s also a big opportunity to prove ourselves against them and show that we can win. If the experience isn’t good that just means we need to fight more and keep learning. We know what they’re capable of and we can’t just stay comfortable at what we do. Personally, it makes me want to double the effort for me to be able to further improve our team.)

Delos Santos is pleased to keep his core after Invitationals MVP Ces Molina, Ria Meneses, and three-time Best Setter Gel Cayuna renewed their contracts to stay with mainstays Vanie Gandler and Rose Doria and landed decorated libero Dawn Macandili-Catindig and young opposite spiker Jovelyn Fernandez. 

“Ang isang main advantage namin is yung core nandiyan pa rin plus meron kaming Dawn Macandili na libero and Jovelyn Fernandez na bata pero alam namin na yung quality ng ilalaro niya magiging maganda in the near future. Excited din ako para i-ready yung team kasi syempre meron kaming additional knowledge na pwedeng i-share sa team and hopefully, ma-maximize natin,” he said.

(One advantage we have is our core remained intact plus we added Dawn Macandili as our libero and a young yet quality player in Jovelyn Fernandez who will only get better. I’m excited to share the additional knowledge I learned to the team and hopefully, we’re able to maximize all the learnings.)

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After earning two bronze medals in the 2023 season, the HD Spikers hope to go all the way to the top this year.

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