Rebisco-Philippines gave Thailand’s Diamond Food everything it got but still fell short, losing a thrilling five-setter, 34-36, 26-25, 28-26, 19-25, 12-15, in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Monday night at the Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Playing their fourth game in as many days and without a win to their name, the Filipino side played with a chip on their shoulder and went toe-to-toe against last year’s Thailand League runners-up before ending their Pool B stint in the fifth spot.
Mark Alfafara’s off the block hit gave Rebisco a 5-2 lead in the deciding set and was still ahead, 9-6, when Diamond Food turned to Kantapat Koonmee, who delivered the goods down the stretch to prevail in the exciting match that lasted two hours and 55 minutes.
The defeat dropped the Filipinos to the 9th-10th place match where they will face the last-placed team in Pool A.
Despite the setback, coach Dante Alinsunurin was thrilled to see his wards empty their gas tanks in the bid to snatch the win.
“Everyone definitely performed. We have been through a lot since 2019, we would have wanted our program to continue nonstop but the pandemic spoiled all our plans,” Alinsunurin said. “But with the results that we have seen since the first game, I am really contented because the players did everything they can.”
“This is our first time stepping into a tournament of this scale,” he said. “I am really delighted with our team’s performance even when we did not win. We truly have learned a lot.”
Jao Umandal, Rebisco’s leading scorer in the continental club competition, came through with 26 points, Mark Alfafara added 23 points, including a team-best three blocks, while skipper John Vic de Guzman had 16 points.
“This serves as a huge lesson for us all. We came here to compete and to learn, and exit the tournament with nothing but all the lessons we can gain,” Umandal said.
“This is the time for us to know our games better inside the court, and we will use this experience to further determine how we can improve ourselves.”
“We know we could have won, it’s just we had some lapses at the end game. In the fourth set, our intensity went down because we were so excited after taking a 2-1 lead,” Umandal said. “But when the fifth set came, we started fresh and forgot about everything that happened in the first and fourth sets. I still believe we did our best to perform and try to win.”