PHILIPPINES’ PODIUM RETURN BID ENDS WITH THAI REVENGE SWEEP
Thailand completed a three-year revenge bid against the Philippines in SEA Games men’s volleyball with a 25-20, 29-27, 25-22 sweep in the elimination round.
The Filipinos – who famously dethroned the Thais in 2019 on the way to a silver medal finish – are now relegated to the classification rounds despite herculean efforts from team leaders Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo.
Three years ago, the Thailand men’s volleyball team endured a massive heartbreak at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games after host country Philippines ended their eight-year title reign with a rousing five-set stunner in the semifinals to earn a historic shot at the gold medal.
Now, the Thais can exact revenge and pounce on a vulnerable Filipino side coming off a shock four-set tournament opener loss to Cambodia that extended past the 25-point mark in the last two frames.
The only advantage the reigning SEA Games silver medalists have left is that the 2 pm match (3 pm, Manila time) on Monday, May 16 will be Thailand’s tournament debut, and the Filipinos’ real game experience can at the very least be used to get them off to a stronger start.
Look for the star duo of Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo to lead the do-or-die rally, as one more loss will spell doom for the reigning silver medalists’ hopes of a repeat podium finish.