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Alfafara leads PLDT over scrappy Navy Sailors

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Former UAAP MVP Mark Alfafara dropped a game-high 18 markers and helped his PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters to a 25-22, 29-27, 25-14 straight-set win over the Philippine Navy Sailors in the Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference, presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Alfafara provided crucial attacks at the tail-end of the first two sets that sank Navy’s comeback attempts. Former Adamson Falcon Ron Jay Galang hopped off the PLDT bench and dished-out 11 points, while former UAAP Finals MVP Peter Torres added 10 markers.

The PLDT offense generated 51 attacks, overpowering the Navy attackers, who had just 33. The Ultra Fast Hitters also shored up their defense, nabbing 22 excellent digs and 28 excellent reveptions.

PLDT started the season sluggishly, dropping matches against the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls and the Cignal HD Spikers. Their win against Navy, however, vaulted them to the top four of the standings with a 2-2 record and assured them of at least a playoff for a Final Four spot.

When asked about his team’s early struggles, PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon admitted that it was harder to prepare for this conference compared to the Open Conference, where they won the championship earlier this year.

“Hindi kami laging nakukumpleto sa practice kasi, although ‘yung guest players namin are already regular players, some of them  are still studying and have classes. But we’re getting to the level we need to be at now,” Mamon said.

Nur Amin Madsari anchored the Sailors with 15 points but found no significant offensive support from his teammates.

PLDT face the undefeated PAF Airmen on Sunday, November 8 at the San Juan Arena. Should PLDT win, they will secure a spot in the playoffs. Although the Airmen are short-handed, Coach Mamon believes that his team will be more motivated on Sunday. “I think kahit kulang sila, the game will still come down to if we can start strong and change some of our end-game execution. We’re going to have to work hard for that win kasi that will really help us advance sa next stage ng competition.”

Navy, on the other hand, has the Cignal HD Spikers on Saturday, November 7 also at the San Juan Arena.

The Scores

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 18, Galang 11, Torres P. 10, Pecaña 9, Franco 6, Paglinawan 3, Torres J. 1, Casillan 1, Billena 1, Mangulabnan 0, Longavela (L)

Navy (0) – Madsari 15, Sapida 8, Rusit 5, Senisan 5, Palisoc 3, Cacayuran 2, Kasim 2, Junio 1, Ajon 0, Encisa 0, Medina 0, Tipay (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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