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PMVNT falls to Japanese Div II squad Saitama Azalea in three close sets

The Philippine Men’s National Volleyball Team showed fight despite being swept by Japanese Division II squad Saitama Azalea, 20-25, 23-25, 23-25, Thursday evening at Ejimi Gym in Tokyo, Japan.

“Ang laking bagay sa amin. Sabi ko nga e, ‘yung adjustment lang [sana] makita namin. ‘Yung nangyayari, ‘yung sistema nila na-adapt namin,” said National Team head coach Dante Alinsunurin, since only unforced errors doomed the squad.

Marck Espejo and Ran Abdilla spearheaded the squad during the last two sets after a slow start. However, Saitama’s spikers were able to eke out the last two sets after holding solitary point leads late.

“Masaya hindi naman basta-basta sila kalaban. Ayun, nakadikit kami. Isa na rin ‘yun sa magandang potential ng team na ito,” said reigning Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference Most Valuable Player Ran Abdilla.

“Kasi ang Japan, isa sa pinaka-magaling, lalo na ‘yung depensa nila. Nahirapan lang kami mag-adjust nung first two sets, pero nung third set naka-adjust kami. Kaya lang kulang pa rin.”

Besides Espejo and Abdilla, the other stalwarts of the team — including John Vic De Guzman, Francis Saura, Joshua Umandal, and Rex Intal — all had their moments as well.

“Nandoon naman ‘yung gusto naming mangyare, kaya lang hindi naman medyo nabaguhan. ‘Yung sistema kasi nila talagang mabilis, ‘yung adjustment (namin) mabagal,” lamented Alinsunurin. “Lumalabas pa rin ‘yung unforced errors namin like ‘yung service namin, halos nag-error kami ng seven to eight points.”

Up next for the Nationals will be a match-up against Tsukuba United on Friday.

“Sana lang magtuluy-tuloy every time na [kahit] sino ‘yung makakaharap namin, maka-adjust kami,” shared Alinsunurin.

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