By Joey Villar
MANILA, Philippines -- Prayers answered.
PLDT Home TVolution Philippines got its wish as former foe South Gas Club Sports Iraq turned into an ally by trouncing Altain Bars Mongolia, 25-12, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, to help the Filipinos get through the quarterfinals in the 2014 Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Saturday.
The Iraqis thus finished the preliminaries atop Group A with an emphatic two-game sweep while handing the other berth staked in their group to the Power Pinoys in the silver platterby after the latter finished second by splitting its two matches.
The Mongolians, who ended up with two defeats, were eliminated.
"We're ready for the quarterfinals," said Phl coach Francis Vicente, who predicted an Iraq victory days before.
The Filipinos' lone win came at the expense of Mongolia, 25-13, 25-23, 25-13, last Tuesday before running into the taller, stronger Iraqis, who dealt the host country a painful 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 defeat Thursday.
An Iraq loss would have created complications since it will forge a three-way logjam in Group A where the Phl may be eliminated via tiebreaker.
Thankfully, Iraq played true to form.
There were some anxious moments though for the Iraqis as they conceded a set for the first time when, ahead two sets to none, coach Alaa Khalaf Abdul Sa sat down some of its starters in favor of his second stringers.
It backfired straight into the Iraqis faces as the Mongolians took the third set by relying heavily on the power-hitting duo of Erdenebaat Enkhtugs and Adiyasuren Tuvshintuguldur.
"We didn't worry that much, we needed to play my other players," said Abdul Sa.
With the win, Iraq and the Phl will barge into the quarters where pairing will be decided by drawing of lots still being done at press time.
And the Phl hopes it draws Iraq, the weakest among the quarterfinalists that included Matin Varamin of Iran, Zahraa Al Minaa of Lebanon, Al Rayyan of Qatar and Baic Motors of China among others not to mention that the latter's coach belittled the Filipinos.
"I'm sorry, Mongolia has five to six players who are good while Phl has only one good player," said Abdul Sa.
The quarters is set Monday.