Libero Jack Kalingking waves the flag in front of an ecstatic crowd after their win. Photograph by Jack Alindahao
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This is what it was like during one of the most electrifying matches in this year’s SEAG

The Philippine Men’s Volleyball Team made history last Sunday when they slayed powerhouse Thailand in the semifinals. With the crowd behind them, the boys in blue and red scored a dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
Jacs T. Sampayan | Dec 10 2019

1977. That was the last time the Philippines contended for a Southeast Asian Games championship in men’s volleyball. After losing to Burma that year, we had to wait forty-two years to get back to the gold medal match.

That hunger was what our Filipino players brought to their semifinal match against four-time defending champion Thailand. While Team Philippines has been playing well up to this point, not a lot of people believed they can upset the regional powerhouse in the sport—but the boys sure did.

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Despite being one point away from bowing out from the tournament at several instances in the match, the men in red and blue showed poise. Down 22-24 in the fourth set, the Pinoys suddenly turned relentless, and the ball could not seem to die on their side of the court. Their grit was handsomely rewarded, and Team Philippines snatched away the fourth set and entered the fifth with momentum.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

After causing a massive upset by besting Thailand in a 5-set thriller, our national men's volleyball team is headed to their first #SEAGames finals match in 42 years. It's a massive feat for this oft-overlooked team, given that the women's matches get much more attention. History will be made in today's match against Indonesia, win or lose, as the team hasn't had a podium finish in 14 years. But that shouldn't stop us from going for gold. Videos from Jack Alindahao. . . . . . . . . . . . . #mensvolleyball #30thseagames #2019seagames #volleyball #sport #sports #sportsph #phvolleyball #seagames2019 #podiumfinish #wewinasone #parasabayan #marckespejo #bryanbagunas #jessielopez

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They replicated their come-from-behind win in the final frame. Down match point, Jessie Lopez gambled on a quick hit for middle blocker Kim Malabunga and it paid off. After a block from Rex Intal followed by a down-the-line hit from go-to-guy Bryan Bagunas that the Thais couldn’t contain, this band of courageous men sealed the win. This booked them a ticket against Indonesia in the finals, which is slated for 6 tonight.

That semifinal clash was a sight to behold and thrilling ride to experience, and the packed crowd inside PhilSports Arena responded fervently. The atmosphere inside was positively electric, and photographer Jack Alindahao captured the scene and shared it with ANCX.

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The boys saved match points several times in the game, and came out with the win.

Bryan Bagunas scored 27 points in the match including the winning point in the 5th set.

Setter Jessie Lopez was fielded in at crucial points of the match, and took risks to help seal the victory.

The Philippine team now faces Indonesia in the gold medal match.

 

Photographs by Jack Alindahao