Behind the playmaking brilliance of Joshua Retamar, the Philippine Men’s National Volleyball team swept Cambodia, 29-27, 25-17, 25-17, to open their Southeast Asian Games campaign on a high note, Monday at the PhilSports Arena.
Retamar — who was a late addition to the National pool — dished out 15 excellent sets on top of 11 points founded on six blocks, three aces, and two attacks. His performance as the orchestrator steered the Philippines to a 1-0 start.
“Natuwa ako kasi talagang ‘yung sistema namin na talagang tinuturo sa mga bata eh nandoon. Kasi sabi ko nga ‘yun lang ‘yung talagang pwede naming baguhin, kasi sa tagal na naming naglalaro sa National team, talagang ‘yung sistema namin sa block hindi talaga namin makuha-kuha,” said Philippine team head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
“Ngayon, kahit papaano, ‘yung mga bata nakuha na namin. Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘yung ginagawa namin.”
With the Philippines up two-sets-to-none, the Cambodians made sure to pour everything out and fight for dear life in the third set.
However, with the scores shackled at 13-all, An Sokheng and Voeurn Veasna made crucial attack and service errors which resulted in a 3-0 swing for the Philippines.
Cambodia was able to slice the lead to a solitary point, but Retamar, Francis Saura, and John Vic De Guzman took turns pummeling hits for the Philippines. Another error from the Cambodian side stretched the Nationals’ lead to seven points, 23-16.
Marck Espejo then delivered through-the-block to put the Filipino spikers at match point. A Veasna hit that went out spelled doom for the Cambodians.
Espejo led all scorers with 21 points on 16 hits, four blocks, and an ace to go along with eight excellent receptions and three digs. Meanwhile Bryan Bagunas — who arrived in the country only yesterday — followed with 14 points.
Kim Malabunga finished with eight points, while De Guzman and Francis Saura had five and four markers, respectively.
Jack Kalingking helped out on the defensive with seven excellent receptions and three digs.
Meanwhile, for Cambodia, Veasna poured in 16 points — 15 of which coming from attacks — in a losing cause. Pin Sarun and My Raksmey contributed nine markers each.
The Philippines will next face Vietnam on Wednesday, December 3, at 6:00 P.M.
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