The Philippines stood its ground but still fell to Thailand in five sets, while Leg 1 champion Indonesia made short work of Vietnam in the opener of the Southeast Asia Volleyball League on Friday night at the City of Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.
Buoyed by massive support at home and the lift from aces Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, the nationals controlled the majority of the match with a 2-1 lead, only to run out of steam in a tough 24-26, 27-25, 25-21, 23-25, 14-16 defeat at the hands of the Thais.
In the first match, Indonesia had no problem dispatching Vietnam, 25-23, 21-25, 25-14, 25-23, to bolster its second straight title after sweeping the opening leg in Jakarta last week.
During that leg, the Filipino spikers succumbed to a 22-25, 20-25, 20-25 loss to Thailand.
But an almost entirely different Philippine team showed up in Santa Rosa with Bagunas, Espejo, and Leg 1 Best Opposite Hitter Steven Rotter taking turns steering the ship.
Bagunas fired 25 points on 23 hits and two blocks, while Espejo and Rotter added 24 and 17 points, respectively, for the Philippines, which came so close to finally breaking through in the inaugural regional tilt.
Supakorn Jenthaisong and Jakkrit Thanomnoi posted 28 and 22 points, respectively, leading Thailand in a stellar comeback for a 1-0 slate in the two-hour and 34-minute match.
Earlier, Dimas Saputra sizzled with 22 points on 21 attacks as the Indonesians gained a piece of the lead with the Thais.
Thuan Nguyen Ngoc was the lone double-digit scorer for Vietnam with 17 points.
The Philippines seeks to rebound against Indonesia on Saturday at 6 p.m. with hopes of scoring a maiden win at home for a potential podium finish in the historic regional tilt presented by PLDT and backed by the City of Santa Rosa, Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, One Sports, and Cignal.
Meanwhile, at 4 p.m., Thailand goes for 2-0 against Vietnam in the duel of the first leg podium finishers.