There are only a precious few days left before the 2019 Southeast Asian Games come to a close. But in that time, the host country the Philippines has already achieved much in the ways of winning. With the eyes of their countrymen upon them, from the stands of New Clark City and various other events venues, Filipino athletes have claimed plenty of medals, topping both the total medal count and (currently) in individual gold, silver and bronze tallies. But not all sports and competitions have been smooth sailing. In indoor volleyball, the women’s team has to contend with fighting for bronze, but the men’s team has pulled off a miracle.
ABS-CBN News reports that the Philippines National Men’s Indoor Volleyball team managed to take down a giant this Sunday, December 8, when they took on the defending SEA Games 2017 champion Thailand at a hard-fought semi-finals match in the PhilSports Arena for a spot at the finals this Monday afternoon. This counts as a momentous occasion for Filipino volleyball players at the Games. Not only did they have to face a previous champion to get to the finals, the last time they did was 42 years ago in 1977, when that finalist team was beaten by Burma, now called Myanmar.
With the Philippines-Thailand semis match, which would send the winner off to face this year’s first finalist Indonesia, the host squad was not quite heated up during the first set, giving it to the Thais 17-25. This was motivation enough to do better for set 2; a point by Ranran Abadilla became the foundation for a 23-18 rally, and despite hot pursuit from the other team was finished at 25-20 for the Filipinos. Thailand did get back at the hosts on set 3, securing it with 24-25 despite a spirited point campaign by Rex Intal.
It seemed the Thais were set for winning it all in set 4, only for Kim Malabunga to foil the 24-21 Thailand lead and allow Bryan Bungas to score up to 25, ending the crucial set 27-25 for the host team. On the final set, the teams went to ties at 12-all and 15-all, as Malabunga tried to keep the squad fighting against Thai ace players Amorntep Konhan and Kittinon Namkhunthod, ultimately putting Malabunga in place to clinch the game for the Philippines at 17-15.
Now the Filipinos will face team Indonesia in the men’s indoor volleyball finals at 6PM this afternoon of December 9, while Thailand and Myanmar compete for Bronze. The women’s indoor team will also face their Indonesian counterparts, but for Bronze while Thailand and Vietnam clash for Gold. Beach volleyball only saw Bronze medals for the Philippines’ men and women’s teams.
Image courtesy of Sports Inquirer