SEA Games: Philippines advances to men’s volleyball semis
Mark Escarlote on Dec 04, 2019 07:26 PM
The Philippine men's volleyball team secured a spot in the 30th Southeast Asian Games semifinals. (Arvin Lim)
A very confident Philippine team showed up at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Wednesday as the home bets crushed Vietnam, 25-20, 25-21, 25-12, to book a semifinals ticket in the 30th Southeast Asian Games men's volleyball competition.
Smelling blood after taking the first two sets with ease, the Filipinos made a coup de grace in the third as they opened a gaping 12-point advantage on their way to their second straight win in Pool B. The PHI has yet to drop a set in the competition after sweeping Cambodia in their opener on Monday.
With the crowd electrified by the Nationals power plays and solid net defense, the Nationals denied the 2017 editions bronze medalist a chance for a podium finish while giving themselves an opportunity to end a 28-year medal drought.
“Sobrang saya kasi alam ko ito ‘yung muling nakapasok ‘yung Pilipinas sa Final Four kasi (last medal) pa natin is 1991,” said PHI head coach Dante Alinsunurin. “Sobrang tuwa na na-achieve namin ngayon na makapasok sa Final Four.”
Bryan Bagunas bannered the Nationals with 22 points off 17 kills, three aces and two kill blocks while Marck Espejo displayed crisp spiking with 11 kills off 22 attempts to finish with 13 markers.
Skipper John Vic De Guzman, Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura got seven points each while setter Joshua Retamar tallied 17 excellent sets and had four points including three of the Philippines' 11 kill blocks in the match that lasted for only an hour and 24 minutes.
De Guzman's ace in the third gave the Philippines a comfortable, 21-9, lead before cruising to morale-boosting conquest.
The PHI joined reigning silver medalist and also unbeaten in two games Indonesia, which the Nationals will face on Friday to close the group stage, in the Final Four.
Only Thanh Thuan Tu reached double-digit scoring for the Vietnamese with 15 points -all from attacks - while Quang Khanh Le got seven markers. Vietnam absorbed its second defeat in as many games.
Meanwhile, Indonesia beat Cambodia, 25-20, 25-17, 35-33, in the other Pool B match while Myanmar debuted with a 26-25, 25-21, 25-18, victory over Singapore in Pool A to join defending champion Thailand on top of their group.
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