The Philippines posted a straight-set victory over Mongolia, 25-13, 25-23, 25-16, to kick off its campaign in the Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Australian import Cedric Legrand starred for the home squad, finishing with 17 of his 18 points on kills, leaving the Mongolians groping for form.
Alnakran Abdilla, a standout from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, provided support as he nailed 11 of his 12 points on hits.
“Cedric is very impressive. He keeps his promise of playing hard and helping Philippine volleyball by winning this tournament,” said Philippines’ coach Francis Vicente, referring to his prized recruit who was part of the Australian indoor team in 2008 and was hailed as the Most Valuable Player in the Victorian Premier League.
With Legrand running the show, the home team dominated the bigger, heftier Mongolians in the first set before racing to a 22-14 lead in the second set.
Then, the Mongolians caught fire.
Taking advantage of the Filipinos’ weak backline defense, Mongolia made the game interesting as it inched closer to within three, 21-24, before the Power Pinoys closed out the set with a powerful smash from Kheeno Franco and a service error from their foes.
It was all Philippines from as it used its blinding speed to its advantage in the third set.
“Speed was the main factor that carried us in this game,” Vicente added. “We’re not that tall, but we have the speed that’s why it was hard for our opponents to beat us. We used our speed to our advantage and it rewarded us with this victory.”
The Power Pinoys will take a breather today, but will be back to face Iraq on Thursday for a win that would formalize their entry to the quarterfinals.