MANILA, Philippines – Yesterday, Power Pinoys head coach Francis Vicente asked for progress after an embarrassing defeat against Iraq.
The nationals seemed already done, but they roared past a Bruno Furtado-less Al Zahra club of Lebanon 24 hours after to take home the 7th place in the 2014 PLDT Home Fibr Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Wednesday, April 16.
The Power Pinoys played inspired early, with the drive and killer instinct Vicente was looking for, and displayed immeasurable grit in times of adversity to bag an intense 25-19, 26-24, 23-25, 21-25, 15-13 triumph in front of a raucous crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Looking down and out, and trailing the final set 3-6, Alnakran Abdilla, Jeffrey Malabanan, and Cedric Legrand poured razor-sharp kills that powered a resounding comeback for the nationals.
Abdilla fired 25 points on 22 hits and 3 blocks, while Legrand and Malabanan joined hands for 21 more.
“I told the team we had nothing to lose, everything to gain. We enjoyed the match because we already achieved our goals. But it is better to overachieve,” said captain Christian Fernandez.
With Furtado out, the Power Pinoys showed a solid performance in the first two sets, opening a two sets to nothing advantage, 25-19, 26-24, anchored on pristine floor coverage and torpedo-fast spikes from Abdilla.
Vicente also utilized the running attack to their advantage, with Jayson Ramos scoring a pile of points from that strategy.
Bruno Furtado had fever, aside from suiting up using wrong uniform colors and was forced to sit out.
“For sure his absence will make a difference. He is our main spiker. He is an advantage to us, and we felt his absence,” said Al Zahra skipper Louay El Sharif.
However, Al Zahra bettered their defense in the following set and banked on the high-flying Jhonlenn Barreto who pounced on the hapless Philippines side for a 25-13 third set.
In the fourth frame, there was no solid support for Abdilla on offense as Barreto and Arthur Al Zayek started dropping bombs to dominate the set, 18-11.
But Abdilla and Peter Torres tried to go for the clincher already, mounting an uprising that brought the nationals within 21-22. However, Barreto continued smashing with daggers to knot the count at two sets apiece.
In the deciding set, errors gave Lebanon a 6-3 edge, before a blistering rally brought back the nationals into the picture.
William Lewis scored on an array of ways to tie the match at 6 apiece, before Lebanon got right back behind Barreto, 8-6.
Jeffrey Malabanan then stormed with bomb after bomb for the jugular.
Malabanan’s back to back combination plays pushed the Philippines up, 12-11.
The set was last deadlocked at 12-all, but with another hit and a service ace from Malabanan, and a crosscourt kill by Abdilla after, the nationals were able to take down the Fertile Crescent region in style, 15-13.
Vicente is satisfied with yet another glimpse of progress for the group, and thanked the local support.
“Its beyond expectation so I am very proud. Thank you for the crowd. They’re here even if it is early in the morning,” said Vicente, who added intelligent volleyball won Philippines the match.
“They played splendid defense and blocking. We had less errors on service. They spiked the ball with intelligence.”
Barreto and Al Zayek each tallied 21 markers for Lebanon. The Power Pinoys also scored more blocks (14-11) and committed less errors (26-31) in the win.
Philippines will finish in 7th place in the 16-team field this year. – Rappler.com
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