The Philippine men's volleyball team continued its strong showing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games after dismantling Vietnam in straight sets, 25-20, 25-21, 25-12, to book a seat in the semifinals Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Bryan Bagunas powered the home team with 22 points, including 17 spikes and three aces while Marck Espejo tallied 17 points on 11 spikes as well as 13 receptions and seven excellent sets.
The trio of Francis Saura, John Vic De Guzman, and Kim Harold Malabunga added seven points apiece.
"I'm so happy because I think the last time we got into the Final Four was in 1991," said head coach Dante Alinsunurin as the team moves one step closer to ending the country's 28-year medal drought in men's volleyball.
"Last SEA Games, we couldn't get a set against Vietnam but this time, we saw the result of all our hard work since March when we first trained," said Bagunas. "This SEA Games is really important for us because we're at home. We need to prove ourselves here"
The Philippines made light work out of Vietnam, who took home the bronze medal in the 2017 SEA Games. In the first two sets, the duo of Espejo and Banugas was able to steer the home team late to get past its competitive opponent. The men's team, however, hardly broke a sweat in the third and final set. A service ace from De Guzman made it 21-9 as the Philippines was in full control.
"Our goal is to play together so that we can defeat whoever we face," Alinsunurin said in Filipino. "Of course since our practices in March, including our tryouts, we talked about how it's our turn to be watched by the fans."
Dinh Nhu Nguyen top-scored for Vietnam with 15 but no other player reached double-figures.
"We're so happy that we beat Vietnam because Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are always in the semifinals," added team captain De Guzman. "Hopefully we can carry our morale in the semifinals."
The Philippine team, who has not dropped a single set in its first two games, will look to close out its play in the preliminary round against Indonesia on Friday to claim the top seed in Pool B.