MANILA, July 23 — There’s still room for improvement.

This was the assessment made by coach Francis Vicente after the national women’s team lost to the Okayama City Seagulls on Saturday in their first friendly match at the Zip Arena in Okayama City, Japan.

The Nationals absorbed a 22-25, 14-25, 22-25, 20-25 defeat to the Seagulls in the match where Jaja Santiago had 20 kills and three aces while Alyssa Valdez finished with 17 points, including 15 kills.

Vicente said his team still remains a work in progress.

“I like our progress in this early stretch of our training,” said Vicente in a press statement released by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) to the media on Sunday.

“But we still have a lot to learn. We still have to perfect our blocking and floor defense as well as improve our composure in the crucial stretch of the match. There’s still room for improvement. We’re still a work in progress,” added Vicente, who also coaches the Generika-Ayala team in the Philippine Superliga.

Seagulls coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto, whose Okayama City Seagulls team is one of the best in the Japan Volleyball Premier League, said he was impressed with the improvement of the Nationals.

“Your team did great. There were some lapses on defense, but overall, your team is doing good in training,” Kawamoto told Vicente through an interpreter.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is the chairman of the organizing committee of the Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Binan City and Muntinlupa City next month, was present during the exhibition match.

The Nationals are attending a 17-day training camp under Kawamoto in preparation for their stint in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games next month.

Meanwhile, the Philippine team will resume training on Monday and will proceed to Osaka on Tuesday for another set of training and competition with university and club teams such as reigning PSL Invitational Conference champion Kobe Shinwa University. (Jean T. Malanum/PNA)