In a series between two rivals in the Armed Forces, the Philippine Army Troopers outworked the Philippine Air Force Airmen in the opening salvo, taking a four-set win, 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, Saturday morning at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Army snapped Air Force’s four-game winning streak in the process. And it was because the Troopers were not intimidated by the tall task of facing the defending champions.
“Katapat namin yung Air Force at alam naman natin kung paano sila magtrabaho. Lahat nandiyan, malalaki, magaling mag-block, at magaling mag-receive,” said Army head coach Rico de Guzman. “Pero nung pinanood namin sila, napansin namin na hindi pa sila gaano nag-je-jell. Kailangan namin bilisan para samantalahin yun.”
Romnick Rico led the Air Force attack with 17 markers, all from spikes. University of Santo Tomas open spiker Anthony Arbasto added 14 markers, 10 from attacks and four from aces, while skipper Benjaylo Labide chipped in 12 points.
But it was Thomasian setter Timothy Tajanlangit who made it all happen for the Troopers, throwing 38 excellent sets coupled with five points.
“Sabi ko nga sa setter ko, si Tajanlangit, huwag siya kabahan. Tinuruan ko rin siya paano manggulang at mag-relax lang bago mag-set,” De Guzman said about his 19 year old setter. “Bago siya mag-set, tignan muna niya kung sino yung tatalon tapos ibigay niya sa kabila. Nababago yung kinagisnan niya galing sa UST.
“Lately, yung mga talo namin, hindi pa kami organized. Sabi ko dun sa apat na estudyante, tiyagain nila yung mga ensayo kaya naging successful yung mga ginawa namin,” De Guzman furthered referring to Tajanlangit, Arbasto, middle blocker Jayvee Sumagaysay and De La Salle University Green Spiker John David Delos Reyes.
Their hard work showed as they raced to an early two-set lead before Air Force tried to mount a comeback in the third frame. However, the errors mounted for the Airmen in the fourth set that turned a 14-16 deficit into an imposing 14-19 lead for the Troopers.
The NU Bulldogs tandem of Fauzi Ismail and Bryan Bagunas tried to will Army back, cutting the lead to just three, 23-20. A powerful attack by Rico that ricocheted off of Leo Marmeto and an attack error by Bagunas denied any Army comeback.
Army had 34 errors in the game, compared to 15 for Army. The Troopers finished with nine aces as well.
Ismail paced Air Force with 18 points while skipper Jeffrey Malabanan finished with 14 points.
Air Force’s ace libero Louwie Chavez and quicker Nino Jeruz were not fielded in the game.
Game Two will take place on Tuesday, June 6, at 1:00pm. The game will take place at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Army (96) – Rico 17, Arbasto 14, Labide 12, Torres 6, Sumagaysay 6, Tajanlangit 5, Depamaylo 1, Reyes 1, Uy (L), Bayking (L), Opp Error 34.
Air Force (90) – Ismail 18, Malabanan 14, Bagunas 11, Tolentino 10, Malabunga 7, Abdilla 4, Dimaculangan 1, Dela Calzada 0, De Ocampo 0, Marmeto (L), Opp Error 25.