by: Kyle Abello || Photo Credit: SMM Voleyball
Raising the Philippine flag internationally, Mylene Paat and Aleona Denise “Dindin” Manabat secured a podium finish for Nakhon Ratchasima in the recently concluded 2021-22 Volleyball Thailand League (VTL), playing as imports for the team. The two talents — top scorers for their respective clubs in the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship (AWVC) — had been recognized by the prestigious team after their victory for Chery Tiggo Crossovers in the Premier Volleyball League, in hopes of making up for the absence of Chatchu-on Moksri, Nakhon Ratchashima’s top scorer in the league.
Both alumni of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), Paat and Manabat started their volleyball careers in college, with both being converted into spikers for their teams. Entering the professional league, Paat had been a known mainstay for Cignal HD Spikers before playing for Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Crossovers, while Manabat had stints both locally and internationally in the past years. Both have also been recognized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF), regularly representing the country in international games.
Since the start of VTL, Paat had been the go-to spiker of Nakhon Ratchasima, tallying a total of 174 points in the first two rounds of the league. She had a total of five games with over 20 points, along with a 28-point total in Nakhon Ratchasima’s first win against Nakornnont. Although firing on all cylinders for most, Paat also had more subtle performances — with 4-point and 2-point matches against Proflex RSU and Supreme Chonburi, respectively.
Meanwhile, Manabat came to Thailand in the league’s second round, joining Paat as imports for Nakhon. The 6’2 athlete introduced herself to the tournament with an 11-point contribution to the club’s first win in the second round. As Paat was fronting trouble in points, Manabat led the scoreboard with 19 points against Proflex RSU, resulting in a 6-5 win-loss record. Then, despite losing to Supreme Chonburi in their second match in the final four, Manabat managed to be the lone double-digit scorer with an 11-point total – with nine points coming off of the third set.
Despite having their fair share of poor matches, the tandem always tried to bounce back stronger and fiercer, steering Nakhon onto a satisfactory track. The efficiency and expertise of their merged forces showed in every match, just as they had in the PVL. Despite falling to Diamond Food for a championship spot, Paat and Manabat concluded with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Paat and Manabat shone in the bronze medal match, leading Nakhon Ratchasima to their eighth bronze medal in the league. Along with their podium finish, Paat was also hailed as the best scorer for VTL.
After their successful stint in Thailand, Paat and Manabat are now shifting their focus as they return to the PVL to defend their championship title, as well as eyeing a podium finish for the Philippines in the 2022 SEA games.
“I want to thank the management, coaches, and my teammates for giving me the chance to play with your team. We may not have been able to get the championship, but you guys made me feel that our team got it. I am overwhelmed with the love and joy you gave me. This team feels like home. I’ll miss you all.” Manabat wrote in an Instagram post with pictures of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Paat also wrote in her Instagram post “Napakabuti mo, PANGINOON! You are so good, Lord!” with a photo of her winning the Best Scorer Award.
Paat and Manabat have indeed brought pride to the country in Thailand. Their experience as imports is beneficial not only to them but also in showcasing the Philippines’ volleyball caliber, as the country’s athletes continue to ascend to international stages in 2022.