April Manganang-led Indonesia deals Philippines a reality check in SEA Games volleyball
Alyssa Valdez and the Philippine team simply had no answer for Indonesia and its star player April Manganang in the two teams' SEA Games debut. Reuben Terrado

SINGAPORE - Indonesia dealt the Philippines a reality check in its return to the Southeast Asian Games women's volleyball competitions after a decade-long absence, winning in straight sets on Wednesday behind the heroics of controversial star April Manganang.

Cleared to play hours before the game by organizers after a Philippine protest seeking a gender test was junked, Manganang proceeded to star for the Indonesian team in an emphatic 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 win before a predominantly pro-Philippines crowd at the OCBC Arena Hall 2 of the Singapore National Stadium.

The Filipina spikers started well but soon unravelled after losing a close first set, their every mistake exploited by the veteran-laden Indonesians who proceeded tp wrap up the Group B match in one hour and 51 minutes.

“This game showed our lack of international experience and short preparations,” said head coach Roger Gorayeb. “Nagsama-sama na lahat. The SEA Games is an entirely new level compared to what we have back home.””

Manganang proved a major force for the Indonesians, who bagged the bronze medal behind Thailand and Vietnam in the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar.

The well-built Manganang led the Indonesians with 13 points while captain Amalia Nabila added 10.

Alyssa Valdez had 15 points to lead the Filipina spikers. Under-23 teammate Jaja Santiago added seven points but elder sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat was held to two points.

Gorayeb added that unlike the recent Asian Under-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship in Manila “we are no longer playing on our homecourt. Iba talaga ang laro sa labas ng bansa.”

The national team will try to regroup when they take on Malaysia  at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

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