MANILA, Philippines—Already assured of a spot in the semifinals in Southeast Asian Games men's volleyball, the Philippines is determined to finish the preliminary round on top of its group.
A sweep of Vietnam, the bronze medalist in the 2017 SEA Games, gave the Philippines a 2-0 record heading into a highly anticipated clash with Indonesia on Friday night.
If they beat Indonesia, the Filipinos will top Group B and likely avoid a semis face-off against holder Thailand.
"Siyempre, kailangan namin makuha talaga para mag-top, makaiwas kami sa Thailand. Importante lang talaga 'yung gagawin namin sa laro sa Indonesia," said head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
"Dapat, ready kami lagi. Dapat talaga, A-game talaga. Importante 'yun sa laro na 'yan," he added.
The Philippine men's team has been impressive in these SEA Games. The hosts opened the competition with a sweep of Cambodia, then took down Vietnam in straight sets 25-20, 25-21, 25-12. The tandem of Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas has been unstoppable, and teenage setter Joshua Retamor has been a revelation.
For Alinsunurin, the team cannot be satisfied with what it has achieved so far. A win over Indonesia will be another statement for the Filipinos and a massive momentum-booster heading into the semifinals.
"Hindi kami talaga dapat mag-relax sa sitwasyon," he said. "Every time na meron kaming adjustment, kailangan magawa namin."
Like the Philippines, Indonesia has yet to drop a set in the competition. Alinsunurin said such a goal is not his squad's main focus, however.
"Basta kami, kung ano lang talaga 'yung ano namin, and'yan kami, lalaro kami," the coach said. "Kung ano man 'yung kailangan naming gawin, mag-adjust sa blocking, mag-adjust sa service. Basta ang importante talaga, mananalo kami."
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