A pick that inevitably raises questions.
Korean Air coach Tommy Tillikainen nominated Mark Espeho (26), a 191cm outside hitter from the Philippines, in the final draft of the 2023 KOVO Men’s Asian Quarter Tryout held at the Jeju Sun Hotel on the 27th.
Libero Ryohei Iga, which Korean Air originally thought was the number one priority, was embraced by KEPCO. In order to establish fairness between clubs, one player can be selected with the same 1/7 probability per team, and Korean Air came in third. Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, who held the first nomination right, took Mongolian outside heater Eddy, and KEPCO, who was thinking of Lee Ga, held the second nomination right, and bowed their heads in the ‘battle for Lee’.
Third place pick, which wasn’t bad. Eddy and Iga, who had been eyeing them, were taken away, but Mongolia’s Bayarsaihan (197cm·OH) and the tallest Chai Peichang (203cm·MB), who can play in various positions, remained. However, director Tommy called Espejo.
Espeho has experienced various overseas stages such as Japan, Thailand, and Bahrain. He worked for Japan’s Vice Adler in the 2018-2019 season and for Thailand’s Visakha in the following season. From 2021, he has been in and out of several leagues, including wearing the FC Tokyo uniform in Japan. In particular, he was in the same league with coach Tommy when he was in Japan. “He’s been in the same league as Espejo, so he knows his skill level and his personality,” Tommy said.
Espeho also recalled that time, saying, “When I was in Japan, director Tommy was at Wolf Dogs Nagoya.”
Among the players participating in the Asian Quarter, he was a player who caught the eye with a stable receive. Director Tommy also said, “Overall, he has great skills. He can help the team in a variety of ways. He will also bring a positive attitude and impact to the team.”
Espejo said, “I was so nervous that my heart almost burst. I am honored to be chosen by Korean Air, the defending champion,” he said.
Korean Air has a national outside heater. They are Kwak Seung-seok and Jung Ji-seok, but there is even Jeong Han-yong, who has recently seen a steep growth. In response, Espejo laughed and said, “I am also a national team player,” and added, “I have to help those players a lot. I have to compete for a spot, but I want to do my best to help the team where I can.”
He has a relationship with Jeong Ji-seok. He has faced opponents in the U23 national team. Espejo said, “I met him as an enemy then, but now he plays for a team. He is excited and looking forward to it.” He did not hide his excitement. 메이저놀이터
Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines. Espejo also played basketball, but due to an injury, he turned to a volleyball player. He said, “I started playing basketball left-handed, but I was injured. I changed volleyball because I can do it with my right hand,” he explained, “basketball is the main sport in the Philippines. Next is women’s volleyball. I hope my playing in the V-League will be a turning point (popularity). I want to become a ‘tool’ to promote men’s volleyball,” he said, burning his will.
He was full of confidence throughout the interview. Espeho said, “Receiving is my strength. Blocking and attacking are all the same,” he appealed, “I like the challenge itself. He has something to learn from his overseas experience. I can share what I have learned in Korea,” he said. “I tend to enjoy the pressure that comes from difficult situations. I want to feel that way in Korea as well.”
He said, “I want to show that there are people who are good at volleyball in the Philippines. When asked what the Korean Air uniform was like, he pointed to the star on the emblem and said, “It’s too heavy,” and made the press conference a sea of laughter with a sensible answer.