Aguilas, Negros spikers break ice in Champions League for men


GO for Gold-Air Force survived VNS Manileño Spikers and MRT-Negros rallied past Sabong International Spikers to set the tone of the men’s Champions League of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation that kicked off on Monday at the Aquamarine Recreational Center in Lipa City.

The national athlete-laden Aguilas had to scrape bottom in their 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory over the Manileño Spikers, who were out to score one of the major upsets since the women’s tournament where high schoolers from California Precision Sports stunned pro squad Petro Gazz in five sets last week.

“Any team can beat everybody here,” said Aguilas coach Dante Alinsunurin, who also handles the national squad. “We have a fresh start and the team which is very determined to win will reach the top.”

MRT-Negros lost a two-set lead and rallied from a 7-10 hole in the decider to beat Sabong International Spikers, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12.

Jian Matthew Salarzon, a 18-year-old standout from Bacolod’s Living Stone International School, showed promise. The 6-foot-3 middle blocker had five blocks and three service aces to finish with 18 points for MRT-Negros.

Both matches drew heavy sweat from all protagonists—the Aguilas won in two hours and 11 minutes in a Pool A showdown and the second match went two hours and 10 minutes in a Pool B contest in the tournament that has Rebisco, Pitmaster Foundation Inc., Top Speed, 1Pacman Partylist, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee as platinum sponsors and F2 Logistics, Asics, PLDT, MVP Sports Foundation and Mikasa as gold sponsors and BCDA, Philippine Red Cross, Lipa City, Davis Paint and Emerald PVC Pipes, Fittings and Doors as silver sponsors with PNVF godfather, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Champions League, giving his full support.

National team mainstay Mark Alfafara recorded five blocks to finish with 19 points with nine digs, while Kim Malabunga and John Vic de Guzman each had 16 points for Go for Gold.

Morris Gavan led VNS with 17 points with John Benedict San Andres adding 13 points and 16 receptions. Josef Ramos

Christian Marcelino, who led MRT-Negros fightback in the fifth set, had 16 points and 10 digs while Jet Nonoy contributed 12 points, including the match-winner, and 11 digs.

Charles David Absin led the Sabong International Spikers with 15 points, while Mark James Rocamora and Ramil de la Cruz making 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Tuesday’s matches pit Team Dasmarinas against MRT-Negros at 10 a.m., Basilan against Go for Gold-Air Force at 1:30 p.m. and Global Remit against Sabong International Spikers at 4 p.m.

Image courtesy of PNVF

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