Rebisco-Philippines gave Iran’s Sirjan Foulad fits in the second set before getting a reality check in the third set to yield, 15-25, 22-25, 5-25, in the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Friday at the Terminal 21 competition hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Back-to-back kills by Jao Umandal allowed the Filipinos to move to within 22-23 in the second set, before the Iranians averted disaster with more composed plays.
The reigning Iranian Super League champions then held their foes to a single attack in the third set with the Filipinos getting their points through their opponents’ errors.
Unlike Sirjan Foulad, where it played 33 matches during its successful 2020-21 domestic club run, Rebisco, made up of the core of the squad that clinched a historic silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, is playing for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Still, national coach Dante Alinsunurin was grateful for the opportunity to go up against a powerhouse team and learn from their system.
“It’s a really great opportunity for us to finally get back to competing internationally after almost two years,” Alinsunurin said. “It’s a tremendous experience for us, as well, that we got to face a high-level Asian team like Iran.”
Umandal and Mark Alfafara had seven points each, while Nico Almendras, who provided the Filipinos’ lone attack point in the third set, contributed six points.
Rebisco seeks a better performance on Saturday when it faces Uzbekistan’s AGMK at the resumption of Pool B action at 11 a.m. (Manila time).
Umandal was also high-praises for the Iranian squad that parades a lineup of Olympic athletes and veteran stars.
“We really struggled but I am still glad of how we fought and tried to bring the best out of each other,” Umandal said. “The Iranian team’s on a different level, but I am confident with my team and all the preparations we did to get here.”
“We didn’t take the win but we are still grateful for the chance to compete against them,” he added.
Rebisco-Philippines’ participation in the continental club championship is supported by Rebisco, Asics, the Philippine Sports Commission and Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.