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Phl spikers fall to Japan, end Asian Games return


The Philippines’ campaign in the 19th Asian Games came to an end after absorbing a 19-25, 14-25, 23-25, sweep at the hands of Japan in the 19th Asian Games men’s volleyball competition Thursday night at the Deqing Sports Centre Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China.

Despite giving the Asian powerhouse a scare in the third set, the Filipinos crumbled under the might of the unbeaten Japanese to bomb out of the race for a Round of 12 berth.

The Nationals were sent packing even before the Asiad officially opens on Saturday, closing the Pool F elimination round with a 1-2 win-loss record.

The Filipinos failed to capitalize on the momentum of their straight sets win over Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Filipino-American hitter Steve Rotter paced the Nationals with 13 points including 12 off attacks while Bryan Bagunas had a quiet 10-point performance he laced with 20 excellent receptions.

An early third set surge put the Philippines ahead, 4-0, and even went up 11-6 after a Joshua Umandal hit. But the Japanese erased their deficit and engaged the Filipinos in a mad dash to the finish.

Umandal tied the set at 23 with a timely hit but Kim Malabunga cracked under tremendous pressure as he committed a costly service error – the last of the Philippines’ 20 total miscues – before Yudai Arai sealed the win for Japan with a kill.

Marck Espejo finished with eight points, nine excellent receptions and four digs while Umandal got four markers for the Filipinos, who made their return to the Asiad for the first time since the 1974 Tehran edition.

Akito Yamazaki led Japan, which is joined by Southeast Asian Games champion Indonesia in the next round, with 11 points while Hiroto Nishiyama made 10.

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