The Rebisco-Philippines gave Iran’s Sirjan Foulad a bit of trouble before falling, 15-25, 22-25, 5-25, in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Friday at the Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Back-to-back kills by Jao Umandal got the Filipinos to within 22-23 in the second set, before the Iranians averted disaster with their veteran plays. The reigning Iranian Super League champions then held their foes to a single attack in the third set with the Filipinos getting their points through their opponents’ errors.
Unlike Sirjan Foulad, where it played 33 matches during its successful 2020-21 domestic club run, Rebisco, which is made up of the core of the squad that clinched a historic silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, is playing for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Still, national coach Dante Alinsunurin was grateful for the opportunity to go up against a powerhouse team and learn from their system.
“It’s a really great opportunity for us to finally get back to competing internationally after almost two years,” Alinsunurin shared. “It’s a tremendous experience for us, as well, that we got to face a high-level Asian team like Iran.”
Umandal and Mark Alfafara scored seven points each, while Nico Almendras, who provided the Filipinos’ lone attack point in the third set, contributed six points.
Rebisco seeks a better performance on Saturday when it faces Uzbekistan’s AGMK at the resumption of Pool B action at 11 a.m. (Manila time).