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Air Force end-game rally sideswipes Cignal

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The Philippine Air Force Airmen successfully gained leverage in the best-of-three bronze medal match against the Cignal HD Spikers in their gritty five-set win, 25-20, 21-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-12, at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Jeffrey Malabanan led all scorers with 28 points and 5 blocks while Edwin Tolentino followed up 12 points and 3 blocks. In addition, Ruben Inaudito chipped in 10 points and 4 digs.

On the other hand, Saku Capate led Cignal with 23 points while Edmar Bonono and Alexis Faytaren chalked up identical 15-point performances.

“Experience ang nagpanalo sa amin. Kahit medyo masakit na ang katawan nilaban pa rin nila and at least nanalo pa rin kami,” said Air Force head coach Rhovyl Verayo after the game. “Iyong blocking at floor defense namin ginawan namin ng paraan noong training namin.”

Air Force was in full control in the opening salvo of the match, relying on their steady defense to propel the team to a 25-20 first set win. Cignal would then yank up its offense to steal the next two sets with 25-21 and 25-16 cards.

Regrouping after giving up the two aforementioned sets, the Air Force finally restored order as they forced a fifth set.

Entering into the fifth set, the Airmen quickly established a 3-1 lead via solid blockings. Moments later, Cignal’s Faytaren would trim the Air Force lead to 4-3 after nailing a solid combination play. Since then, Cignal was able to halt the opposition’s momentum and tie the game at six-all after Tolentino’s attack went wide.

Sensing the kill, Cignal then blasted a 6-4 scoring run which was capped off by a quick attack from Fuentes to give his team a 12-10 advantage.

Having the chance to put Cignal away, Air Force suddenly scored the last five points of the game, courtesy of unlikely errors from Cignal and some timely attacks from Tolentino, to end the game with 15-12 fifth set win.

“Magagaling ang mga coach [Cignal] nila at mga player nila bata. Ineexpect namin na pukpukan nanaman next Tuesday so pahinga muna kami at light training muna,” added Verayo.

The second game of this best-of-three bronze medal match will be this coming Tuesday 2:00 pm, at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

The Scores:

Air Force (3) – Malabanan 28, Tolentino 12, Inaudito 10, Alinsunurin 7, Esteban 7, Lopez 4, Dacurong 3, Tanjanlangit 0, Merza 0, Balse 0, Mosuela (L) 0

Cignal (2) – Capate 23, Faytaren 15, Bonono 15, Fuentes 13, Lansangan 3, Taneo 2, Ramos 2, Castel 2, Diezmo 0, Bagalay 0, Christensen 0, Bagalay 0, Montero (L) 0

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