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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Altas storm into semis, boot out Tamaraws

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PERPETUAL-KINTO Tyres crushed Chef on a Diet-FEU with a commanding performance, fashioning out a 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 victory as the Altas barged into the semifinal round of the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference ahead of everybody else at the Paco Arena in Manila Sunday.

The Altas kept the momentum of their intense five-set escape over the DLSU-Dasmariñas side at the close of pool elims play last Wednesday, controlling the match from the start while silencing the Tamaraws with a dominant offensive and capitalizing on their opponents’ mishits and miscues.

With Louie Ramirez on the firing end, Perpetual continued its assault in the second frame, building leads of 9-4 and 11-6 before pulling away at 17-9. Despite the Tamaraws’ attempt to regroup and reload, the Altas had responses for every FEU charge, claiming the victory in a swift one-hour and 33-minute match.

Perpetual thus nailed the first slot in the Final Four, a round-robin phase that will feature Japanese guest team Maruichi Hyogo.

“We kind of expected this (win),” said Ramirez, who finished with 22 points, including 18 on attacks, two blocks and two aces. “Pero pagbubutihin pa namin (sa semis), sa offense, floor defense and service.”

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Disputing the three other semis seats in the knockout quarterfinals at presstime are Cignal and La Salle, Cabuyao and Letran, and National U and Navy.

Perpetual coach Sammy Acaylar, however, expressed surprise at the team’s success, emphasizing the strength of the competition

“Sobrang saya kasi di naman naming ini-expect ‘to, kasi lahat ng teams dito ay malalakas. Siguro binigay lang sa amin ito ni God,” said Acaylar, who also highlighted the significance of the tournament as exposure for the team, aiding in their preparation for the NCAA and fostering his players’ emotional and psychological development.

Jefferson Marapoc and Micheal Medalla backed Ramirez with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the Altas finished with 43 attack points against the Tamaraws’ 34. They also scored three aces.

Perpetual likewise earned 19 points from FEU’s unforced errors while yielding 13 points of its own.

Jelord Talisayan scored eight points while Zhydryx Saavedra, Martin Bugaoan, Andrei Delicana and Charles Absin each delivered seven points for the Tamaraws, who turned in an impressive elims campaign with a sweep of Pool D.

In contrast, Perpetual needed to scrape past DLSU-Dasmariñas to edge Army in a tiebreak for the second quarters spot in Pool A topped by Sta. Elena-National U.

But the Altas came into the knockout match armed with determination, seizing command with an aggressive offense and solid floor defense all throughout, preventing any chance of an FEU comeback.

The Tamaraws briefly led 2-0 in the opening frame but the Altas quickly turned the tide, scoring nine of the next 13 points and wresting a three-point lead. They dominated from there, leading, 9-4 and 11-6, in the second and cruising to an eight-point win.

They took the first four points in the third, padded it to 7-1 before they sat on a 19-11 cushion.

The Tamaraws did fight back to pull within, 20-23, but Ramirez towered for his 18th spike and the two teams traded service miscues to pave the way for the Altas’ unhampered entry to the semis.

The loss was so crushing for FEU that it dropped the Tamaraws out of the semis picture after a stellar performance in the elims of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

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