IRAQ South Gas Club denied the Philippines an early entry into the quarterfinals, pulling off a quick 73-minute straight-sets win on Thursday in the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The squad from Iraq featuring three tall imports proved too strong, scoring a 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 win to get their campaign going.
Philippines PLDT TVolution was eyeing a follow-up to its opening-day win over a Mongolian side and had hoped to make an early booking for a seat in the last eight.
But stopping the Iraq team reinforced by two 6-foot-6 imports and one who stands 6’4” was too tall an order for the Power Pinoys, who now have a 1-1 win-loss card.
The Philippines could still move up to the quarterfinals if Iraq beats Mongolia. A win by Mongolia, however, will force a three-way tie and points difference will determine who advances to the round of eight
There is no limit to the number of imports but teams are allowed to field only two at a time.
Bulgarian 6-foot-6 reinforcement Amaniev Metodi Aleksandaron poured in 15 points, while Hungarian import Baroti Arpad added 12 for Iraq. Six-foot-4 Macedonian Itaftov Aleksansandar is the other import for the Iraq side.
“Team Philippines is a good team but no height,” said Iraq coach Khalaf Abdul Sa Alaa, whose team has an average height of 6’2”.
The Philippine team, which has an average height of around 6’1”, managed to give the Iraq side a close fight in the opening set but struggled in the next two as South Gas Club stepped on it.
The Iraq squad posted an 8-1 lead early in the third and was able to keep a safe distance despite the efforts of Australian import Cedric Legrand and local player Alnakran Abdilla.
Abdilla made 11 points for the Philippines, which dropped to 1-1 in the tournament backed by Mikasa, Healthway Medical, Maynilad, Gerflor Spurway, Senoh Equipment, STI, PSC, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and MMDA Chairman lawyer Francis Tolentino.
Philippines put up a good fight in terms of spikes (35-31) and even equaled its opponents blocks (4-4). Iraq had nine service aces, while the Philippines had only two.