SEA Games: Espejo, Retamar shine in PHI’s opening day win
Mark Escarlote on Dec 02, 2019 07:25 PM
The Philippine men's volleyball team swept Cambodia in their 30th Southeast Asian Games opener. (Arvin Lim)
Marck Espejo provided the spark on offense while debuting setter Joshua Retamar made his presence felt both on orchestrating attacks and defense at the net as the Philippines hammered Cambodia, 29-27, 25-17, 25-17, in the 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s volleyball Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
The Nationals had some anxious moments in the extended first set but when Espejo got his groove going combined with his teammates’ solid net defense anchored by Retamar, the Filipinos went on a tear to join the other Pool B elimination round first day winner Indonesia.
Espejo powered the Nationals with 21 points as he pounded 16 attacks along with four aces and a kill block while Bryan Bagunas, who arrived Sunday from Japan, added 14 markers from off eight spikes, four kill blocks and a pair of aces.
“Nu’ng first set, medyo struggle nga po kasi slow start kami. Siguro nga dahil first game, nagkapaan talaga kami,” said Espejo. “Pero andun naman sa latter part, naka-recover kami. Second, third set, nagtuluy-tuloy kami, yung lamang namin medyo malayo. Pero andun pa rin yung errors. Bukas, praktis pa tapos dun namin i-fix yung problems.”
The incoming sophomore Retamar made his mark with his defensive prowess, accounting for six of the Nationals' 17 kill blocks to finish with 11 markers while tallying 15 excellent sets for the Filipinos.
Down, 26-27, in the first set, Retamar saved a set point with a heady drop ball off a broken play to force a deuce. A Cambodian miscue gave the Philippines the set point advantage before Retamar ended the frame with a kill block.
Espejo continued his hot attacking in the second frame but it was the Nationals defensive gems at the net – a total of eight – that spelled the difference.
With momentum on their side, the home team easily brushed off the Cambodians’ early fight as the Nationals pulled away midway in the third to break a slim, 17-16, lead with a 6-0 blast for a seven point lead.
Espejo hammered the match point before Cambodia yielded the match with an attack error.
Voeum Veasna led Cambodia with 16 points with all but one coming off attacks while Pin Sarun and My Raksmey finished with nine each.
The Nationals will take on Vietnam on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
In other results, Indonesia crushed Vietnam, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21, while defendinmg champion Thailand came back from a set down to defeat Singapore, 25-27, 25-13, 25-16, 25-18, in Pool A.
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