The Philippine men’s volleyball team produced another masterclass performance and stunned Vietnam, 25-20, 25-21, 25-12, to advance to the semis in the 30th Southeast Asian Games Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Behind powerful hits and rock-solid defense, the Nationals completed their domination over the 2017 SEA Games bronze medalist as they remained undefeated in their group.
The win should serve them well when they face the Indonesians today in a game they considered as the mother of all battles.
Bryan Bagunas alone was too much to handle for the visiting country as he led the Philippines’ scoring rampage with 22 points, off 17 attacks and three service aces.
Marck Espejo, John Vic De Guzman, Kim Harold Malabunga, and Francis Saura combined for 34 points to dispatch Vietnam in a little over an hour.
Leading by two sets to none, the Philippine squad started the third set with a 6-1 run, which turned out to be a preview of how they would finish off Vietnam.
The Filipino spikers pulled away when setter Joshua Retamar, who chipped in four points and dished 17 excellent sets, blocked Vietnam’s attack to lead by 11, 14-3.
The Filipinos never looked back as they continued to pile up points to the delight of 4,000 spectators.
National team head coach Dante Alinsunurin said they are now reaping the fruits of their sacrifices during almost eight months of rigid training.
“Goal talaga namin na talunin kung sino man ang makaharap namin. Yung ginawa naming practice mula March, nag-usap kami na kailangan ngayon tayo naman ang mapanood ng mga tao na nananalo (It’s really our goal to defeat whoever we face. Since our practices in March, we made it a goal to be the team who is winning),” Alinsunurin said.
De Guzman, the team captain, was likewise happy with the way they’re playing but stressed that the war is far from over.
“Nung una pa lang, nag-practice kami ang pinaka-target na namin is gold pero gaya nga ng sabi ni coach marami pa kaming pagdadaanan. Kumbaga mag-scout pa kami, mag-training pa kami nang mas maayos, mas double time kami sa practice saka siguro yung teamwork ma-maintain namin pagdating ng semifinals kasi alam naman namin na yung mga makakalaban namin lagi silang nasa top,” De Guzman said.