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PLDT foil Navy comeback; now one game away from salvaging bronze

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The PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters are one win away from finishing on the podium at the Spikers Turf Reinforced Conference, after defeating the Philippine Navy Sailors 25-14, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19 in the FilOil Flying V Arena, Saturday afternoon.

Already leading 14-9 in the opening set, PLDT relied on University Santo Tomas standouts Mark Alfafara and Henry Pecana to unload attacks and service aces against the Sailors. In the following set the Ultra Fast Hitters allowed Navy to catch up, thanks to the errors committed by PLDT. Tied at 20 all, Alfafara once again took over in dispatching the Sailors.

Both teams played back-and-forth in the third set, again levelled in a 20-all deadlock. Kheeno Franco unloaded a quick hit for a 21-20 lead for PLDT, but Edgardo Rusit answered back for Navy with a down-to-line attack to tie things at 21. Nur Amin Madsairi blocked Alfafara for a 22-21 lead in favor of Navy, to which Alfafara retaliated with an over-the-block attack for a deadlock at 22. Still, Navy were able to snatch the set, as Wilbert Sapida and Madsari provide crucial points to extend the match.

The Ultra Fast Hitters didn’t allowed a repeat of the third set, as Alfafara and Pecana led the PLDT offensive to take a 16-14 lead in the second technical timeout. Afterwards, Galang and JP Torres provide timely points for PLDT to dispatch the Sailors.

“I pointed out yung errors nila lalo noong third set. Lalo naging complacent sila at naging organized ang blocking ng Navy,” PLDT coach Odjie Mamon said, on why the Ultra Fast Hitters were unable to sweep the Sailors in game one of the battle for bronze.

Despite not making it to the finals of the tournament, Mamon said they want to end the conference on the podium.

“Although we are in the battle for bronze, I’d rather have bronze than silver. Dahil hindi maganda bigla kami silver kung matalo kami sa finals kasi nag si-signify ng loss iyon. I want to end the conference as winners,” Mamon added.

Alfafara unloaded 20 points, 17 coming from attack, to lead PLDT. Franco and Pecana chipped 17 and 12 markers apiece. Meanwhile, Razzel Palisoc finished with 16 points to lead Navy, while Madsari contributed 12 points.

The Ultra Fast Hitters will try to clinch the bronze as they face the Sailors in game two of their Battle for Bronze on November 25 at 1: 00 PM in the same venue.

The Scores:

PLDT (3) – Alfafara 20, Franco 17, Pecana 12, Ramos 10, Galang 6, Billena 4, J.Torres 3, P.Torres 2, Mangulabnan 0, Casillan 0, Paglinawan 0, Mangaring (L), Longavela (L)

PHI Navy (1) – Palisoc 16, Madsari 12, Senisan 6, Rusit 6, Sapida 5, Junio 1, Colocado 0, Kasim 0, Encisa 0, Cacayuran 0, Ajon 0, Medino 0, Tipay (L)

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