LIPA CITY—Go for Gold-Air Force found the VNS Manileño Spikers a tough nut to crack before carving out a 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory in the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League men’s inaugurals Monday at the Aquamarine Recreational Center here.
With the Manileño Spikers closing in a 11-13, Kim Malabunga’s kill put the Aguilas at match point before Mark Alfafara closed out the exciting two-hour, 11-minute contest with a block on Roniey Adviento.
After earning their first win in the three-team Pool A, coach Dante Alinsunurin and Go for Gold know they cannot afford to be complacent when his troops shoot for a spot in the semifinals against the Basilan Steel Spikers Amin-Anak Mindanao at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“Any team can beat everybody,” said Alinsunurin, whose Aguilas have only trained two weeks before the competition. “We have a fresh start and the team which is very determined to win will reach on top.”
Alfafara had five blocks overall to finish with 19 points to go with nine digs while Malabunga and John Vic de Guzman each had 16 points for Go for Gold.
It was De Guzman who earned the distinction to score the first-ever point in the men’s Champions League, nailing an attack off a a Jessie Lopez set.
A long-time Philippine team captain who was a part of the Southeast Asian Games silver medal-winning squad in 2019 that revived the country’s men’s volleyball program, De Guzman was delighted to have the federation-owned national league to get going.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity because after the SEA Games in 2019, the program was cut kasi due to the pandemic,” said De Guzman.
“We are very thankful that club men’s volleyball is back and our goal in the future is to encourage the young aspirants to continue the legacy for our men’s national volleyball team,” he added.
De Guzman, who with Alfafara were used to be rivals with the Aguilas in the Spikers’ Turf, is making the most out of the opportunity to play under Alinsunurin in the club level.
“I’m very thankful for coach because he trusted us. What we are doing for our team will depend from him because he sees what we are performing inside the court,” said De Guzman.
The week-long tournament has Rebisco, Pitmaster Foundation Inc., Top Speed, 1Pacman Partylist, Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee as platinum sponsors and F2 Logistics, Asics, PLDT, MVP Sports Foundation and Mikasa as gold sponsors. BCDA, Philippine Red Cross, Lipa City, Davis Paint and Emerald PVC Pipes, Fittings and Doors are silver sponsors with PNVF godfather, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Champions League, giving his full support.
The games are live streamed over the PNVF official website volleyballphilippines.com, iWantTFC for local and international audiences, Puso Pilipinas and Smart Sports Facebook pages and YouTube channels and Gigaplay.