Games today: (MOA Arena)
12 nn -- Iran vs. Japan
2 p.m. -- Oman vs. Hong Kong
4 p.m. -- Turkmenistan vs. Kazakhstan
4 p.m. -- China vs. Taipei
6 p.m. -- UAE vs. Papua New Guinea
WITH Australian imports Cedric Legrand and William Lewis playing beautiful music together, the Philippines PLDT Home TVolution toyed around Mongolia’s poor reception to hammer out a 25-13, 25-23, 25-16 triumph and move within a win of advancing to the quarterfinals yesterday in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Legrand had 18 hits, including three blocks, and two service aces, while Lewis delivered 17 excellent sets to lead the Power Pinoys in securing the top spot in the three-team Pool A.
The Philippines also drew superb performance from Ran Abdilla, who scored all but one of his 12 points from attacks.
After a sluggish start, the Power Pinoys went guns ablazing as they broke away from a slim 10-7 lead by capitalizing the Mongolians’ poor reception to grab the opening set.
The Philippines was coasting to a 22-13 spread in the second frame when the second unit failed to step up their game, allowing Mongolia to threaten at 23-24 on a Lewis service error.
A service fault by Mongolian captain MB Ariunbayar allowed the Power Pinoys to seize a two-set advantage.
It was an all-Philippines show since then as the home team raced to a 6-1 lead and never looked back.
“Yung mga kulang namin sa team, kailangang i-polish and yung first win namin pang-high morale for the team. Tatlo lang kami sa bracket, medyo nakahinga kami ng konti dahil sa unang panalo pero hindi ito ang basehan. Kailangan laging gutom sa panalo,” said Power Pinoys skipper Ian Fernandez.
The Philippines, which underwent a tough two-week training camp in Korea, hopes to formalize its entry into the Top 8 against Iraq-South Gas Sports Club tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Yung weaknesses nila (Mongolia), siguro yung receive at hindi sila gaanong kabibilis. Malalaki sila pero dadaanin namin sa bilis,” said Fernandez, who was fielded late in the third frame to replace Lewis and finish with three points.
Power Pinoys mentor Francis Vicente was glad that despite the team was formed less than two months ago, the jelling was there, especially with Legrand and Lewis.
“Very impressive ang game. The players were disciplined,” said Vicente. “Yung promise nila (Legrand and Lewis) is to rebuild Philippine volleyball. Give new trends sa team.”
Over at the nearby Cuneta Astrodome, Qatar’s Al-Rayyan also had winning start in Pool C as it drubbed Turkmenistan, 25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 25-16.
Not only Abdilla gave the Philippines a huge lift but also the other locals who were playing inspired in front of a good-sized crowd.
National University mainstay Peter Torres, easily one of the most applauded players in the Power Pinoys, contributed five hits, while Kheeno Franco and Lewis tossed in four points apiece.
Erdenebat paced Mongolia with 13 points, including two blocks, while Ariunbayar added 10 markers.
The Power Pinoys will take a breather today, but will be back to face Iraq tomorrow for a win that would formalize their entry to the quarterfinals.
All games by the Philippine Team, also known as the Power Pinoys or the PLDT Home TVolution team, will be televised live on TV5, the official broadcast partner of the AMCC. The tournament also has Magic 89.9, Wave 89.1, Jam 88.3, Play 99.5 and KLite 103.5 as radio partners.