The cream of crop in the 25-man Philippine Team pool rose in the Clash of Heroes fund-raiser. In the end, the Blue Rajah side muscled past the Red Lakan team in a five-set thriller, 25-27, 25-23, 25-19, 18-25, 15-9, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Led by Philippine Team skipper Jhonvic De Guzman, Rajah survived a back-and-forth affair to come alive in the fifth set.
De Guzman tallied 19 big points, five of which came in the decider. National Team mainstay Ranran Abdilla fired in 15.
There were notable absences from the 25-man pool, but these did not derail the event. Thanks to players who heeded the late call of the flag, fans were treated to a thrilling match. In addition, head coach Sammy Acaylar also added several new candidates to the pool.
“Noong araw namin, kapag tinawag kami ng bansa, wala ng hesitation. We do everything for the country because this is the highest honor,” Acaylar said adding that those absent already lost his favor.
“That’s why I’m so thankful sa lahat ng dumating. Kahit late na, they still came here, they showed they wanted to play.”
And some of those late call-ups ended up stealing the show.
National University star Bryan Bagunas had never practiced with the team, but the six-foot-three open hitter delivered a game-high 24 points and powered thee Red Lakan team. Another late addition, Edward Camposano, managed 13 points for the men in red.
Acaylar emphasized that this match will greatly affect his decision on who makes the first cut where only 18 players will be left in the pool. He hopes to announce the team sometime next week.
Rajah (3) – De Guzman 19, Abdilla 15, Cabaron 13, Dolor 11, Kasim 7, Fuentes 5, Doliente 4, Deximo 0, Taneo 0, Kalingking (L)
Lakan (2) – Bagunas 24, Camposano 13, Carascal 9, Malabanan 6, Quiel 5, Valbuena 4, Sarcena 3, Asia 2, Kasim 2, Taneo 0, Chavez (L)