Umandal shines anew as Rebisco-PHL snatched victory


TEAM Rebisco-Philippines got itself on the win column following a 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11 victory over Sri Lanka’s CEB Sports Club to end its campaign in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Wednesday at the Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima.

First foreign exposure done. Lessons learned.

“This is our first exposure and we hope to become better for the next edition,” head coach Dante Alinsunurin. “We are hopeful for the continued rise of the level of Philippine volleyball on its return to the international scene.”

Jao Umandal capped a tournament-long brilliancy by scoring 28 points—including a kill that sealed the Filipinos’ ninth-place finish—against the Sri Lankans.  The University of Santo Tomas standout also had five blocks and three service aces.

Stepping up big in the absence of Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who are plying their trade in Japan, it was Umandal’s coming out party in the competition that was the national team’s first since the historic 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medal run.

Rebisco also displayed a balanced offense with skipper John Vic de Guzman and Nico Almendras finishing with 11 points each and Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura contributing 10 points apiece.

“Perhaps the biggest lesson we will take is to pounce on whoever is on the other side whenever we can,” De Guzman said. “After this, I know we need to work on our composure and on our focus on everything we do.”

Mark Alfafara added eight points in two sets before sitting out the rest of the two-hour and 18-minute match.

The Filipinos—whose participation was supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, Rebisco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Asics—had 19 blocks, with middles Saura and Malabunga combining for 10.

It was Philippines’ third appearance in the men’s continental club competition and the first since the country, represented by Cignal HD, finished 12th in 2015 in Chinese-Taipei.

The Philippines booked its best finish in the Manila 2014 edition where PLDT placed seventh.        

Rebisco went winless (0-4) in Pool A, but gave top-notch team Thailand Diamond Food a good fight on Monday, 34-36, 26-24, 28-26, 19-25, 12-15.

Image courtesy of EDDY

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