World titlist Italy, Brazil kick off Men's VNL Week 3 in PH

By Jean Malanum

July 3, 2023, 6:40 pm Updated on July 3, 2023, 6:58 pm

MANILA – World No. 2 Brazil battles No. 4 Italy as the Men's Volleyball Nations League (VNL) starts on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

No less than First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos will make the ceremonial serve before the 3 p.m. encounter between three-time Olympic gold medalist Brazil and reigning FIVB world champion Italy.

“Everyone is excited with the VNL men’s competition and we’re expecting more fans to march to the MOA Arena to witness thrilling world-class and high flying international men’s volleyball action,” said Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara in a statement on Monday.

Brazil beat Italy in the finals of the Olympic Games in Athens (2004) and Rio de Janeiro (2016). Italy has won four World Championship titles and seven European Championship titles.

Meanwhile, crowd favorite Japan, ranked No. 7 in the world, and No. 25 China complete the opening-day double header at 7 p.m.

This is the second consecutive year that the PNVF is hosting the VNL, the sport’s most prestigious competition organized by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Volleyball World.

Also expected to attend the opening ceremony are Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairperson Richard Bachmann and Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto Rubiano.

World No. 1 Poland faces No. 9 Slovenia at 7 p.m. right after the match between No. 12 The Netherlands and No. 15 Canada at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Suzara said the Philippine leg serves as the final and critical stage of the VNL’s preliminary round that will determine the top eight squads which will advance to the final stage from July 19 to 24 in Poland.

PLDT, Rebisco, Akari, PSC, Ganten, Gerflor, Mikasa, Mizuno, Senoh and are the major sponsors of the event also supported by Fitbar, Instax Fujifilm, Fitness First, Pasay City, Taguig City, Diamond Hotel, Maynilad, Peugeot, SM MOA Arena, The Look and The Moment Group with Cignal, Inquirer Group, RMN, DOOH, One Sports, One Sports+ and Mega Mobile as media partners.

Fans can buy their tickets at Ticketnet. An exclusive VNL shirt will also be given to every purchase of Patron Front Row and VIP On Court tickets. More information are available @volleyball_philippines on Facebook and Instagram for more information and updates. (PNA)