THE Philippines’ Home TVolution Team relied on speed to get past Mongolia in just three sets, 25-13, 25-23, 25-16, yesterday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
It took the the Power Pinoys around 71 minutes to put away the Mongolians and formally earn the first quarterfinals slot in Group A at the start of the 2014 Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship.
“This team, we have no height. But we must take it fast, and siyempre, with discipline,” said national coach Francis Vicente.
Australian reinforcement Cedric Legrand, had 33 big points, scoring 13 of it on spikes, three on blocks and two off his serves.
A pair of placement errors by Mongolian spiker Munkhbat Erdene-Ochir allowed the Filipinos to dominate the first set with a 19-11 advantage.
The Mongolians still managed to stay close, 12-19, off Munkh Orgil Munkhbat’s kill at the net.
But his error, and William Lewis’ two aces, followed by Legrand’s kill allowed the nationals to move away, 24-12.
Former La Salle-Dasmarinas standout Alnakran Abdilla made 12 points and had his turn to shine in the second set. His block and kill, followed by Legrand’s placement shot handed the Filipinos a 5-1 lead in the early goings.
Legrand’s frontline heroics, which included another ace, and a down-the-line shot, had Vicente’s boys pulling away, 12-4.
They were enjoying a 22-13 edge when actor Richard Gomez came in momentarily to replace Abdilla.
The Mongolians managed to gain seven points in Abdilla’s absence and move close, 20-23.
As Abdilla later returned, the nationals took the last two points off Kheeno Francos’s frontline spike and Abdilla’s cross court volley.
The nationals then soared to a 4-0 lead and never looked back in the third set.
Legrand’s kills from the left corner yielded him three big points, and the nationals went on to post a 10-4 advantage.
The Philippines will now brace for a 12-noon showdown on Thursday with the Iraq-Matin Varamin club, which is still on its way to Manila.
Meanwhile, Jhonlenn Barretto hit 24 points for Zahraa Al Minaa of Lebanon, which weathered a tough stand put up by Duc Long Gia Lai of Vietnam, 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13, to take charge in Group B.
Bruno Furtado contributed 20 points off his spikes for the Lebanese spikers, who next battle Japan on Thursday.