The Philippine men’s volleyball team stumbled on its first assignment at the 31st Southeast Asian Games with a heartbreaking 25-21, 24-26, 30-38, 29-27 defeat to Cambodia Saturday at the Quang Ninh Gymnasium.
The Filipinos fought back from a slow start by escaping a close second-set encounter, but failed to sustain their form in the crunch over the next two sets to absorb their first defeat in the group stage.
The PH spikers had plenty of chances to gain the third- and fourth-set triumphs with the hard-hitting smashes of Bryan Bagunas and Marck Espejo, who were fresh from their stints at the Japan V. League, but they couldn’t stop the powerful attacks from Cambodia.
A down-the-line spike from Cambodia and a block from Espejo’s attack sealed the win for the Cambodians.
The PH team faces a must-win situation when it clashes with Thailand Monday to advance to the next stage.
The PH team hopes to eclipse its historic silver-medal finish at the 2019 edition that the country hosted.