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Phl spikers crush Afghans

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PNVF Bryan Bagunas puts on a show in leading the Philippines to its first Asian Games men’s volleyball competition win in 49 years after sweeping Afghanistan.

Quick and easy.

Bryan Bagunas and Steve Rotter found their marks on offense to lead the Philippines to a historic first Asian Games win in 49 years after pummeling Afghanistan, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12, in the men’s volleyball competition Wednesday at the Deqing Sports Centre Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China.

It took the world No. 63 ranked Filipinos only 66 minutes to dispose of the Afghans and barge in the win column in Pool F to remain in the hunt for a spot in the Round of 12.

The Nationals had to engage the Afghans in a see-saw battle in the opening set before rediscovering their fine form in the next two to complete the sweep.

The Sergio Veloso-mentored squad recovered from straight sets defeat at the hands of Southeast Asian Games champion Indonesia Tuesday night and improved to a 1-1 win-loss record.

The Nationals, who returned to the Asiad after its last appearance in 1974 in Tehran, rained down 48 attack points with Bagunas and Rotter accounting for combined 29 kills.

Bagunas finished with a game-high 18 points including a crisp 16-of-22 attacking clip while adding seven excellent receptions and three digs for the Nationals, who will face Asian powerhouse Japan next.

The Philippines-Japan clash is scheduled Thursday at 7 p.m.

Rotter scored all of his 13 markers on spikes while Lloyd Josafat hosted a block party with five kill blocks to end his day with eight points. Jau Umandal tallied seven points and 12 excellent receptions while Kim Malabunga and Marck Espejo added six each.

Rotter broke a 21-21 deadlock in the first set with a thunderous hit before Bagunas followed suit with consecutive hits as the Nationals reached set point.

Back-to-back attack errors by Rotter forced Veloso to call time with the Afghans breathing down the Nationals’ necks. Bagunas quickly answered with a hit to put away the frame.

Playing with confidence after the first frame escape, the Nationals were able establish a significant separation early in the next two sets to gain complete control of the match.

Afghanistan, which was swept by Japan Tuesday, dropped its second straight game to bow out of the second round contention.

Gulam Haidari had eight points while Naser Kohistani got six for the Afghans.

Afghanistan clashes with Indonesia to close its elimination round campaign.

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