INSTITUTO Estetico Manila got a big boost in morale ahead of the title series, downing finals opponent Systema Tooth and Gum Care, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21, on Thursday in the last game of the elimination round of the Shakey's V-League Foreign Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
The two teams had set up a title showdown with a few matches to spare in the eliminations and the Phoenix Volley Masters got a boost before the first match of the best-of-three title showdown on Sunday.
IEM rolled to their fourth consecutive win and fifth in six elimination-round matches.
Jason Canlas had 16 points, while Jeffrey Jimenez and Karl de la Calzada had 11 each as IEM completed the win in one hour and 56 minutes.
“Ang bilin ko lang sa team kahit non-bearing, is mag-enjoy but not to sacrifice the chances of winning,” said IEM coach Jun Balubar. “Ganoon ang treatment ko, kahit non-bearing game gusto ko madala ang momentum sa Finals."
Angelon Espiritu had 12 points for Systema, while Rocky Honrade added 11.
John Depante, who sprained his right ankle in the fourth set, also had 11.
Systema ace spiker Myco Antonio missed the game due to acid reflux. Antonio averaged 16 points in four outings.
The Active Smashers ended the eliminations with a 4-2 win-loss card.