Playing without their top guns, the Go for Gold-Air Force Jet Spikers averted a major collapse, eliminating the Eco Oil-De La Salle University Green Spikers in five sets, 25-21, 25-20, 17-25, 23-25, 15-13, in the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila, Tuesday.
With Ran Abdilla, Madz Gampong, Fauzi Ismail, and Rikko Marmetto tending to their respective personal matters, long-time Jet Spiker Jeffrey Malabanan stepped up and fired 21 points to help Air Force clinch the last quarterfinals berth in Group B.
“Gumamit ako, nag gamble ako sa ibang players pero siyempre effort pa rin nung lahat kasi naka-adjust sila sa ginagawa namin. Buti na lang ‘pagdating nung fifth set nagbalik yung kumpyansa ng mga bata ko,” said Air Force head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
After breezing through the first two sets, the Jet Spikers found themselves in a deep hole as Eco Oil managed to strike back and take the following sets to forge a decider.
Luckily for them, Malabanan and Kim Malabunga were there to quell the Green Spikers’ uprising. Up by only a point in the fifth frame, Malabunga scored on back-to-back hits to build a three-point advantage. Malabanan then dealt the finishing kick with a kill.
Rudolfo Labrador scored 14 points while Malabunga tallied four of his 12 markers in the last frame to help the Jet Spikers win their fourth victory, tying Ateneo with an identical 4-0 slates.
Jessie Lopez steered the offense with 33 excellent sets to go along with three markers and 14 digs while Manuel Sumagui patrolled the floor with 17 receptions and 11 digs.
Eco Oil-La Salle was led by JM Ronquillo with 17 points.
Also collecting their respective victories were the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters and the Sta. Elena-NU Ball Hammers.
Already at the jaws of defeat, Joshua Umandal took charge late to complete the Power Hitters’ upset of the Hachiran-Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 22-25, 28-30, 25-15, 25-22, 15-10.
Umandal – who played the first three games in the middle – reverted to his previous position and scored five of the Power Hitters’ last seven points in the final set. He finished the match with 18 points built on 15 attacks and three aces.
“I made two changes lang, nagpalit ako ng legit na middle tapos si Jao [Umandal] ang ginawa kong outside hitter. Actually his biggest contribution in this game is yung kanyang passing tapos siyempre may atake pa siya,” said PLDT head coach Odjie Mamon on Umandal, who also tallied 12 receptions in the match.
The Power Hitters, however, had to dig deep and overcome an early 0-2 deficit to post a 3-1 win-loss standing and grab the solo second in Group C.
Up by a solitary point in the fifth set, Umandal fired three consecutive hits to give the Power Hitters a four-point cushion, 11-7. From there, Umandal once again came in PLDT’s defense, scoring the differential hits which paved the way for Lloyd Josafat to put the exclamation.
Pao Pablico and Richard Solis chipped in 14 points apiece with the latter also notching nine excellent digs while Lloyd Josafat contributed 11 markers in just three sets of play.
Mark Calado’s 29-point explosion went down the drain as the Hachiran-backed squad suffered its second loss with a 2-2 win-loss card.
With their quarterfinals spot already secured, the Ball Hammers did not take their foot off the brakes and ran over the San Beda Red Spikers in straight sets, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19, in the night cap.
“Same ano naman yun, kung ano yung inensayo namin yun yung nilaro namin ngayon. Kami kasi atleast pasok na kami, officially pasok kami sa top two ng group namin. Ang target namin is number one,” said Sta. Elena head coach Dong Dela Cruz.
Banjo Mondero paced the Ball Hammers with 12 points – all coming from the attacking department – to tow Sta. Elena to atop Group D with a 4-0 card.
Edward Camposano delivered 10 points in the victory while Nico Almendras finished with seven markers and five excellent receptions.
Jeffrey Losa and Mark Decana had 10 points apiece for the Red Spikers – who dropped to 0-4 in the standings.