Team Rebisco loses to Diamond Food in 5-set marathon

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2021 07:55 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2021 09:13 AM

JP Bugaoan and Mark Alfafara of Team Rebisco celebrate after a point. Photo courtesy of AVC
JP Bugaoan and Mark Alfafara of Team Rebisco celebrate after a point. Photo courtesy of AVC

(UPDATE 2) Team Rebisco squandered a one-set lead to lose in heartbreaking fashion to Thai club Diamond Food in five sets, Monday afternoon at the Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima.

In a match that featured three extended sets, it was Diamond Food that showed greater poise down the stretch to take a 36-34, 24-26, 26-28, 25-19, 15-12 victory in the Pool B action at the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship.

The loss dropped Team Rebisco to 0-4, putting them in a classification match for 9th and 10th places on Wednesday. 

The thrilling encounter saw the Filipinos go toe-to-toe with their Southeast Asian rivals, and the first frame set the tone for a marathon match. It took 46 minutes to complete the first set, with Team Rebisco squandering an early lead and three set points in a see-saw finish.

In the end, clutch hits by middle blocker Kissada Nilsawai and Kantapat Koonmee gave Diamond Food a hard-earned 1-0 lead.

But the Filipinos roared back in the second and third sets, each time recovering from deficits to snatch the win in the endgame. In Set 2, Team Rebisco got a clutch hit from Ysay Marasigan, who came off the bench for the hit that put them at set point, 25-24.

Koonmee appeared to have forced a deuce off a pipe attack, but a challenge by the Team Rebisco coaching staff showed that he committed a foot fault in his approach, giving the Filipinos the winning point.

Diamond Food appeared headed for a comfortable win in Set 3 when they took a 22-16 lead, but former University of Santo Tomas star Mark Alfafara sparked the Filipinos' comeback. His stuff of Chaiwat Thungkham highlighted an 8-0 blast, capped by an ace by current UST star Joshua Umandal to put Team Rebisco at set point, 24-22.

A violation by Alfafara and a crosscourt hit by Koonmee set up the tight finish, wherein JP Bugaoan fired the quick hit for a set point, and Koonmee's attempt went long.

Diamond Food made sure that there would be no comeback in the fourth set for the Filipinos, however, as Koonmee conspired with Pusit Phonarin to push the match to a decider.

Team Rebisco raced out to a 9-6 lead in the fifth thanks to back to back hits by Umandal, but the Filipinos' errors allowed Diamond Food to get back in the match. A Marasigan swipe tied the match for the last time at 11, before Koonmee fired a crosscourt attack and Alfafara committed a hitting error for a 13-11 Diamond Food advantage.

A net violation on Koonmee gave the Filipinos some hope, but he made up for it with two straight kills that finished off Team Rebisco.

Umandal finished with 26 points, while Alfafara contributed 23 markers including three kill blocks. Skipper John Vic de Guzman added 16 points.

Koonmee was spectacular, putting up 36 points on 32 kills and four blocks. Phonarin added 28 markers on 23 attacks, three blocks, and two aces. 

The Filipinos will have one day of rest before playing the fifth-placed team in Pool A.

Meanwhile, Diamond Food improved to 2-1 in pool play ahead of their match against Foolad Sirjan on Tuesday.