By: Jonash Dannug
Behind Marck Espejo, the Cignal HD Spikers dealt Rebisco-Philippines its first loss in the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference, taking a four-set win, 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Espejo, a national team stalwart who suited up for the HD Spikers this game, was pivotal in the fourth set that paved the way for Cignal’s third straight win. The four-time Spikers’ Turf MVP had 18 markers in the contest.
Vince Mangulabnan glued things together for Cignal, as he tossed 29 excellent sets.
“Sabi nga ng coaches namin, maglaro kami ng kung sino kami. Magtulungan kami, hindi pwedeng siya lang. Dapat kapag pumasok kami sa loob, one family kami. Yun na yung pinanghawakan namin na magiging isa kami,” said Mangulabnan.
Team captain Ysay Marasigan contributed 10 points for Cignal.
Meanwhile, Fauzi Ismail led the way for the nationals with 15 markers.
Earlier in the day, RP team members Mark Alfafara and John Vic De Guzman connived to edge out Sta. Elena in four sets, 25-10, 22-25, 25-22, 25-19, and give PLDT solo lead in the standings.
Alfafara and De Guzman had 19 points each for the Power Hitters, with the former also tallying 12 receptions and seven digs.
“Siguro lagi lang pinagdidiinan ni coach sa akin na yung pagre-receive is attitude lang. Doon ako mahina so dapat ma-change [ko] yung attitude ko. Kailangan kapag may bolang paparating sa akin, kunin ko lang ng kunin,” Alfafara explained.
Nico Almendras had 14 points for the 2-1 Ball Hammers, while James Natividad added 13 markers.
Meanwhile, Philippine Army handed AFP Olympics rival Coast Guard its fourth straight loss to open the triple-header, picking up a 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 win.
Antonio Torres top scored Army with 17 points, while PJ Rojas chipped in 14 points built on 11 attacks, two aces, and one block.
“Pahigpit na ng pahigpit yung mga susunod naming makakatapat. [So] kailangan talaga naming pukpukin pa na makapag-ensayo pa ng mas matindi, para sa mga susunod na laban, mas madali na,” said Rojas.
On the other hand, Esmail Kasim fired 12 markers for Coast Guard.
On Sunday, Air Force take on bitter arch-rival Cignal at 2:00 pm. Before that, Easytrip face Army, while at 5:00 pm Sta. Elena squares off against Animo. Games are shown live through One Sports’ Facebook page.