(UPDATED) The Manileño Spikers advanced to the semifinals of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Champions League after sweeping Basilan on Wednesday afternoon.
Manileño recovered from a sluggish start to the third set to register a 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 victory at the Aquamarine Recreational Center in Lipa City, Batangas.
With the result, Manileño locked up the second seed in Pool A and set up a semis showdown against the Team Dasma Monarchs, who went unbeaten in Pool B of the competition. The Steel Spikers, meanwhile, were relegated to the classification phase.
"I told them that it's a do-or-die game," Manileño coach Ralph Ocampo said. "Most of my players are young, 20 to 21 years old, so the pressure is there especially against the veterans."
"I told them, we need to stick to our system in our defense and attack. The results will follow if we do things right," he added.
The Steel Spikers did not make it easy for Manileño, however, particularly in the third set where they threatened to extend the match. Basilan nursed a slim slead for most of the set, with a crosscourt hit by Razzel Palisoc putting them on top, 16-13.
But unforced errors proved to be Basilan's doing. Joshua Barrica's service error sparked a 4-1 run that allowed Manileño to tie the frame, 17-all.
Basilan pulled away anew, 20-17, with an ace by Jai Sulayman giving them the three-point cushion. But Mark Montemayor uncorked a crosscourt hit, and the Steel Spikers committed three consecutive attack errors to give Manileño a 21-20 advantage.
The Steel Spikers stayed in the hunt, thanks to Aldren Banaag, whose running hit forced the last deadlock of the set, 22-all. Montemayor responded with a crosscourt attack, and Manileño skipper Geuel Asia fired an ace to put them at match point, 24-22.
A Palisoc kill gave Basilan some hope, but another error -- this time, a poor serve by Banaag -- secured the win for Manileño.
Benedict San Andres starred for Manileño, putting up 13 points, 13 receptions, and six digs. Rwenzmel Taguibolos had 10 points, including three blocks.