MANILA – Olympic and world champions and top-ranked athletes take centerstage in the Philippine leg of the prestigious Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour (BPT) Challenge that starts with the qualifiers at the Nuvali Sand Courts in the City of Santa Rosa, Laguna on Thursday.
Reigning champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway banner the loaded men’s division of the four-day competition that features over 30 countries.
Mol and Sorum, gold medalists at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and FIVB 2022 Beach Volleyball World Championships, won the inaugural BPT Challenge in Doha, Qatar last year.
The Mol-Sorum tandem will face a bevy of challengers led by top-ranked players from Sweden, the Czech Republic, United States, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Poland and the Netherlands, which are all inside the top 10 of the world beach volleyball rankings as of this writing.
The 16-team main draw includes home bets Ran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton and eight more squads coming from the 32-team qualifications.
The James Buytrago-Rancel Varga and Anthony Arbasto-Alche Gupiteo teams will carry local hopes in the qualifiers that caps the Philippine National Volleyball Federation’s busy 2023 calendar.
Meanwhile, reigning champions Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng of the United States, as well as world champions Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil, will miss the women’s division.
World No. 7 Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg of Brazil and World No. 9 Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia of China will instead spearhead the main draw of the distaff side.
Also in the 16-team main draw are Filipina spikers Jen Eslapor and Floremel Rodriguez.
Sofiah Pagara and Khylem Progella will vie for the Philippines in the qualifiers.
Japanese Olympian Miki Ishi and partner Akiko Hasegawa have already tested the five-court venue.
Stalwarts from Australia, Switzerland, France, England, Portugal, China, Chile, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Oman, Thailand, Latvia, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Turkey, Gambia, Morocco, Malaysia, Finland, Slovenia, Ukraine and Slovakia are also in the fray.
Tickets are available at vw.ticketmax.ph at PHP100 for morning sessions and PHP200 for afternoon sessions. Tickets will also be available onsite starting Thursday. (PR)