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Espejo’s 29 drives Cagayan past Cignal

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Fresh off his Asian U23 stint, Marck Jesus Espejo delivered a game-high 29 points and 24 excellent receptions that keyed his Cagayan Rising Suns in their five-set triumph over the Cignal HD Spikers, 33-35, 25-23, 16-25, 25-21, 15-11 in the second elimination phase of the Spikers’ Turf Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

Espejo’s U23 National Team running mates, Rex Intal and Peter Torres contributed 16 points apiece in their first match of the Top Four phase. Cagayan struggled through an uphill battle of limiting their errors in the match as the Rising Suns gave up 37 errors to Cignal’s 27, but Cagayan’s superb offense sufficed to quell the HD Spikers.

“Medyo nawala ‘yung chemistry ng team namin kasi nga may ilang miyembro ng team na kasali ‘dun sa U23. Kararating lang nila tapos ilang araw lang may laro agad, so mahirap talaga. Kahit mag-training ‘yung mga natira dito, iba pa ‘rin pag kulang,” said Cagayan Head Coach Nes Pamilar. “’Yung mga service errors magagawan pa yan ng paraan kapag nakapagensayo pa kami ng husto.”

San Beda product, Saku Capate topped all HD Spikers with 20 points while University of Southern Philippines Foundation standout, Edmar Bonono trailed close by with 19 points. Cignal middle blocker, Reyson Fuentes, continued his terrorizing defensive streak with 14 points that includes five blocks.

Cagayan rebounded from a heartbreaking five-set loss in their final elimination match against the now eliminated, Army Troopers while Cignal came off a do-or-die win over the Champion Infinity Active Smashers.

The Rising Suns will face the Philippine Air Force Airmen in their second match of the Top Four phase on Tuesday, 2 p.m. Cignal will try to keep its Finals hopes alive when it throws down with the star-studded PLDT Ultra Fast Hitters also on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

“Kailangan namin bilisan lalo ‘yung laro namin against Air Force. May bentahe kami sa kanila in terms of bilis ng atake. Ang sinasabi ko naman lagi sa mga player ko, ang volleyball process of elimination. Lagi kong tinatanong sa kanila ‘Sino ba ‘yung dapat natin pagurin una sa kalaban?’ tapos ieexecute na lang namin,” Coach Pamilar remarked about his upcoming matchup.

The Scores

Cagayan (3) – Espejo 29, Torres 16, Intal 16, Pirante 11, Paglinawan 10, Zamora 3, Canlas 1, Gatdula 0, Santos 0, Ramos (L), Dizon (L)

Cignal (2) – Capate 20, Bonono 19, Fuentes 14, Castel 11, Christensen 7, Diezmo 4, Lansangan 1, Ramos 1, Dela Cruz 1, Montero (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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