The young Megabuilders Volley Bolts earned a tough five-set win over the celebrated Cignal HD Spikers, 18-25, 25-23, 26-24, 22-25, 15-13, to force a winner-take-all Game Three in the Men’s Open Conference Finals, Saturday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
With Bryan Bagunas playing just three sets due to back spasms, there were a lot of players who stepped up in lieu of their ace spiker. Fauzi Ismail tallied a game-high 24 points, while James Natividad and Madz Gampong finished with 17 points each, the latter subbing in for Bagunas.
“May back injury kasi siya e, hindi makatalon. Suwerte naman na nag-step up si Madz Gampong,” said Megabuilders assistant coach Dong Dela Cruz.
Though they dropped the fourth set that could have sealed the match, Dela Cruz and the Megabuilders were confident entering the fifth set.
“I instructed the boys na kahit matalo kami dito, okay lang, basta makakuha lang kami ng momentum. ‘Pag maka-19 or 20 points tayo, okay na yun sa akin. E lumagpas pa, nag-22 pa kaya nung pagdating nung fifth set, kumpiyansa kami,” he added. “Pagdating ng fifth set kasi, wala ng magaling-magaling diyan. Kung sino ang maglaro na lang ng maganda yung mananalo.”
With deciding set knotted at 9-all, Saura went connected on a quick attack to give the Megabuilders the advantage. But during the next possession that saw Peter Torres give up a point due to an error, the former National University Bulldog figured in a shouting match with Cignal head coach Oliver Almadro before storming off to the dugout.
And with the frustrations mounting, so did the focus of the HD Spikers. A service error by Erickson Ramos was followed by back-to-back service aces by Francis Saura to send the Megabuilders to match point. The HD Spikers were able to string together three straight points, the last two coming from net touches, but an emphatic kill by Ismail sealed Game Three for the PVL neophytes.
“Yung mga sets na we won, yung blocking namin gumana,” Dela Cruz recalled. “Yung problema namin kasi nung Game One is kung nasa backline si [Ysay] Marasigan. Hindi namin nagawan ng paraan yun. Siya yung pumatay sa amin nun.”
Saku Capate paced Cignal with 23 points. Marasigan added 18 points but needed 48 attack attempts to do so.
Game Three of the 2017 PVL Men’s Open Conference Finals will be played on Wednesday, August 16, at 1:00pm.
In the first game, the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls outlasted the Philippine Air Force Airmen in five sets, 27-25, 22-25, 18-25, 25-19, 16-14, to force a third game as well, this time in the bronze medal series.
Joven Camaganakan powered Sta. Elena with 22 markers, while Berlin Paglinawan finished with 19 points. And they needed every point they could get to overcome Jeffrey Malabanan’s 26-point explosion.