INSTITUTO Estetico Manila forced a rubber match for the V-League title, downing Systema, 19-25, 25-19, 13-25, 25-21, 15-13, on Sunday in the Foreign Reinforced Conference final at The Arena in San Juan.
MVP Jeffrey Jimenez recovered from his subpar performance of nine points in the series opener, leading the way for IEM with 17 points, while cousins Jason Canlas and Eden Canlas contributed 16 and 10 markers, respectively.
The decider of the best-of-three title series is set on Sunday.
“Kinausap ko lang si Jimenez, ang sinabi ko sa kanya simple: ‘Prove to them that you are an MVP,’” said IEM coach Jun Balubar.
“Kasi nu’ng Game One hindi siya factor. Hindi nakaatake, hindi naka-block so this time binigyan ko siya, actually, lahat sila chinallenge ko and nakita ko na yung maturity sa game," he added.
From an 8-3 IEM lead in the fifth and final set, the Phoenix Volley Masters nearly lost the match as Rocky Honrade and Patrick Rojas led the Active Smashers in a 9-3 run to take the upper hand, 12-11.
John Macalma saved match point but Antonio misreceived the ball to hand the victory to IEM.
“Ang instruction ko dyan just keep your focus,” said Balubar.
“Ang sabi ko lang mag-stay sila sa plan, sa sistema, and gusto ko lang whatever happens stay focused. It’s not how you win or lose a game but kung paano mo siya nilaro,” he added.
Chris Macasaet came up with 23 points for Systema, while Angelo Espiritu and Honrade added 14 and 11 markers, respectively.