Marck Espejo and the Cignal HD Spikers defied the odds and fought their way back from a set down to dethrone the Go For Gold-Air Force Jet Spikers and bag the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference title in five sets 26-24, 21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-7, Sunday evening at Paco Arena in Manila.
“Sabi pa lang from the start, kahit anong mangyari, kahit na lumamang yung kalaban wala tayong ibang gagawin. Gagawa tayo ng history,” said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, who won his first title with the franchise.
“Sabi ko una pa lang, ‘Let’s make history lang. Mananalo at mananalo tayo.’”
Espejo – who was named as the Finals MVP – fired on all cylinders, tallying 28 big points, 25 of which coming from attacks while also tallying 24 excellent receptions.
The quartet Jude Garcia, Ysay Marasigan, Rex Intal, and Espejo joined hands to build a 6-2 advantage in the early-goings of the rubber set. Espejo and Garcia stretched the HD Spikers’ lead up to seven points.
Bryan Bagunas mustered all his strength to keep his team alive, scoring off a kill to trim the deficit to six, 6-12.
However, Intal followed it up with a quick to restore Cignal’s lead to seven. From there, Espejo took the cudgels and fired two consecutive kills to take down the tournament.
Jude Garcia added 19 markers. Meanwhile, team captain Marasigan and Bugaoan chipped in 13 points apiece.
Vince Mangulaban glued things together with 35 excellent sets. Manuel Sumanguid led the defensive end with 19 receptions and 16 digs.
On the other hand, Bagunas led Air Force with 25 points while season MVP Abdilla supplied 17 markers.
Bagunas will leave for Japan in a few weeks, where he joins Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in its 2019-20 Japan V-League campaign.
Despite starting the game strong, Cignal lost their bearings and went on to drop the next two sets. With his team facing elimination, the ever-reliable Espejo came to Cignal’s defense and delivered the differential hits to send the game to a deciding fifth set.
This is Cignal’s fourth title in the league. They also won the 2015 Reinforced, 2017 Reinforced, and 2017 Open Conferences.
Meanwhile, despite losing Game Two, PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters took the bronze after edging the Sta. Elena Ball Hammers in the quotient wars.
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