MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines men’s national volleyball team rode the momentum of a tight win in the first set to claim a 29-27, 25-17, 25-17 triumph over Cambodia in their first game in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at PhilSports Arena in Pasig on Monday.
Former five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo had 21 points on 16 kills and 4 aces, while Bryan Bagunas put up 14 points including 4 kill blocks, to spearhead the national team’s attack.
It was the two-way brilliance of setter Joshua Retamar, however, that stole the show for the Philippines. The National University standout had 15 excellent sets and 11 points — including a team-high 6 blocks — to help the Philippines’ cause.
They had to survive a slow start and an extended first set, with Retamar coming through with a pair of clutch plays including the kill block that sealed the win for the Filipinos.
It turned out to be a preview of the second set, which saw the home crowd tally 8 blocks. That set the tone for the rest of the match as the Filipinos seized control.
The Philippines joined Indonesia at the top of Group B, after the latter took a 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 win over Vietnam.
In Group A, Thailand bucked a one-set deficit to seize a 25-27, 25-13, 25-16, 25-18 win over Singapore.
Vouem Veasna led Cambodia with 16 points, but no other player reached double-digits for their side.
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