MANILA, Philippines – Cignal HD regained the Spikers' Turf Reinforced Conference crown in spectacular fashion, as they fought back from a set down to dethrone Go for Gold-Air Force on Sunday evening at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Marck Espejo sparked the HD Spikers' come-from-behind triumph, as they claimed a 26-24, 21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-7 victory to seize the Reinforced Conference championship.
"Sabi pa lang from the start, kahit anong mangyari, kahit na lumamang 'yung kalaban. wala tayong ibang gagawin. Gagawa tayo ng history," said Cignal head coach Dexter Clamor, who won his first title with the franchise.
"Sabi ko una pa lang, 'Let's make history lang. Mananalo at mananalo tayo,'" he added.
Espejo, who earned Finals MVP honors, tallied 28 points – 25 of which came on attacks. He also had 24 excellent receptions, while Jude Garcia contributed 19 points.
Garcia, Ysay Marasigan, Rex Intal and Espejo conspired to give Cignal a 6-2 advantage to open the fifth set, before Espejo and Garcia stretched their lead to seven points.
Bryan Bagunas tried to keep Air Force alive, as his skill trimmed the deficit to six points, 12-6.
But Intal scored on a quick hit to restore Cignal's lead to seven points. From there, Espejo took charge, scoring back-to-back hits to lift Cignal to victory.
Marasigan and JP Bugaoan each scored 13 points, while Vince Mangulabnan was credited with 35 excellent sets. Manuel Sumanguid led the defensive end with 19 receptions and 16 digs.
Air Force, on the other hand, was led by Bagunas with 25 points, while season MVP Abdilla supplied 17 markers.
Bagunas is set to leave for Japan in a few weeks as he joins Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in its 2019-20 Japan V-League campaign.
Despite starting the game strong, Cignal lost its bearings and went on to drop the next two sets. With his team facing elimination, the ever-reliable Espejo came to Cignal's defense and delivered the differential hits to send the game to a deciding fifth set.
This is Cignal's fourth title in the league, winning the 2015 Reinforced, 2017 Reinforced, and 2017 Open as well.
Meanwhile, despite losing Game 2, PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters was awarded as the bronze after edging the Sta. Elena Ball Hammers in the quotient wars.
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