Tall Iraqis stall Pinoys q'final bid

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 11 2014 03:26 PM | Updated as of Apr 12 2014 12:26 AM

The Philippine team's Cedric LeGrand attacks against Iraq during Thursday's 2014 Asian Men’s Volleyball Club tournament. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines - Iraq’s South Gas Sports Club used its height and experience to defuse the Philippines’ PLDT Home TVolution, scoring a 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 victory in the 2014 Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship presented by PLDT Home Fibr at the MOA Arena in Pasay City yesterday.

Headed by tall, strong European imports, the Iraqis went through some anxious moments in the opener, needing a late charge to put away the Power Pinoys’ challenge before imposing their will in the next two frames to complete the sweep.

Bulgarian Aleksandaron Amaniev Metodi and Hungarian Baroti Arpad stood at the forefront of Iraq’s attacks and net defense, particularly in the second set when the power-hitting pair pounced on the Power Pinoys’ series of errors and poor reception.

The 6-6 Metodi peppered the hosts with 15 hits, including 13 on kills, while the 6-5 Arpad unloaded 12 hits he laced with nine attacks to send the Iraqis closer to the quarterfinals of this event backed by Mikasa, Healthway Medical, Maynilad, Gerflor Spurway, Senoh Equipment, STI, PSC, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto and MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino.

“The Philippines was very good but they didn’t have enough height,” said Iraq coach Khalaf Abdul Sa Alaa, whose team’s average height is 6-2.

The Power Pinoys’ tallest player is 6-2 Australian reinforcement Cedric LeGrand.

The setback thus stalled the Filipinos’ quarterfinal bid after kicking off their campaign with a 25-13, 25-23, 25-16 rout of the Mongolians.

Now, the hosts need to hope for an Iraq win over Mongolia tomorrow or face the specter of elimination via a tiebreaker should the three Group A teams end up in a three-way tie.

Phl coach Francis Vicente is confident though that Iraq will beat Mongolia.

“I think Iraq will win over Mongolia and we have a good chance of making it to the next round,” said Vicente.

Alnakran Abdilla topscored for the Power Pinoys with 11 hits, including 10 kills, while LeGrand struggled against taller rivals and missed on a number of attacks.