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UST star Ybanez elated to be included in Alas national pool

MANILA, Philippines – Reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Josh Ybanez of University of Santo Tomas admitted that he once thought his dream of being part of the men's national volleyball team will remain an unrealized. 

Standing 5-foot-7, the Golden Spiker star is a relatively small outside hitter especially in the international stage. 

But the 21-year-old was recently still named to the Alas Pilipinas national team pool. 

He is joined by Alas outside hitters Bryan Bagunas, Marck Espejo, Jau Umandal, Mark Calado, Louie Ramirez and Nico Almendras. 

On Wednesday, Ybanez said that he is happy and excited with the opportunity to play for the Philippine flag. 

"Of course, every volleyball player is perhaps dreaming about being a part of the national team. I actually doubted if I will be a part of the team with my height and skills. I told myself that maybe, I don't have a chance," he told reporters in Filipino.

"Now, I am so happy that this was given to me by God, the opportunity was given and I can be a part and be of help for the national team," he added.

The back-to-back UAAP MVP said that he is looking forward to learn a lot from the "kuyas" of the national team. 

"There are aspects in volleyball that I can go toe-to-toe with them, so maybe that is where I can enter. And yes, it is a healthy competition so I will support those who are in and if not, they are still my teammates," he underscored. 

Bagunas and Espejo spearhead the pool. Aside from the outside hitters, volleyball stars Joseph Bello, Choi Diao, Jade Disquitado, Menard Guerrero, Lloyd Josafat, Noel Kampton, Vince Lorenzo, Kim Malabunga, Leo Ordiales, Louie Ramirez, Owa Retamar, Rwenzmel Taguibolos, Sherwin Umandal and Adrian Villados complete the pool. 

Ybanez said that with the wealth of talent and volleyball IQ in the team, he will be bringing a rookie mindset. 

"I am always bringing that rookie mindset, that I can be taught and I need guidance, too," he stressed. 

"I will be a rookie that can lead, talk and communicate to my teammates. I will also be open for new learnings and suggestions. I will just absorb."