THE Power Pinoys ended the tournament the way they started, scoring a win over Lebanon on Wednesday to salvage seventh spot in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the MOA Arena
Philippines PLDT Home TVolution survived a late fightback from Lebanon’s Zahraa Al Minaa to eke out a 25-19, 26-24, 13-25, 21-25, 15-13 win.
The Philippines finished with a flourish after launching its bid with a quick win before suffering three successive losses that relegated it to the classification match for seventh place.
Alnakran Abdilla led the way for the Philippines, scoring on 22 attacks and three blocks, while Australian reinforcement Cedric Legrand had 12 points.
“Hindi lahat ng laro mabibigay mo ang 100% na laro mo, siguro that time nag-off lang talaga ang laro ko, 'yun lang," said Abdilla, who registered three and six points, respectively in their losses to Qatar and Iraq, respectively.
The taller Lebanese settled for eighth place.
It took five years before the Philippines returned to the Asian stage after its stint in the 2009 AMCVC.
“Sabi ko sa mga teammates ko nothing to lose, everything to gain,” said Philippines team captain Ian Fernandez.
“Sabi ko lang sa kanila i-enjoy ang game, kasi na achieve na namin ang goal namin (makapasok ng quarterfinals) kaya ngayon, mas maganda na i-over achieve na lang namin,” he added.
From 10-all in the deciding set, Jeffrey Malaban delivered the goods for the Power Pinoys after four back-to-back spikes to position the Power Pinoys at match point, 14-13.
Abdilla came up with a crosscourt hit to seal the victory.
“Kaya ganoon kaganda ang laban kasi kagabi bago matulog nag meeting kami, sabi namin lalaban tayo," said Abdilla.
“Syempre ’yung crowd talaga ang nagpalakas ng loob namin, nagpapasalamat kami sa mga nanood at sumuporta sa amin,” he added.
Looking to close out the match, the host country collapsed and committed nine unforced errors that gave Lebanon the chance to extend it.
The Power Pinoys needed to dig deep to recover from 16-21 down and cut the deficit, 21-22.
But Zahraa Al Minaa came with three consecutive points to force a decider.
Brazilian reinforcement Jhonlenn Baretto and Arthur Al Zayek stepped up in the absence of Lebanon's main scorer Furtado Bruno and each finished with 21 points.
Bruno appeared for the presentation of the first six players but sat out the entire game due to fever.
“Bruno makes the difference in our team but regardless we played a good game,” said Zahraa Al Minaa coach Simon Atallah. “He is an advantage but not to the extent that we will lose, we tried our best.”
Atallah comended the Power Pinoys' all around game.
“Philippine defense is very good, they jump and jump all the time and the combination (attack) is amazing,” he said.