Spikers’ Turf: Imus escapes Navy without star Louie Ramirez
MANILA, Philippines —Sans spiker Louie Ramirez, Imus-ITP had to avert a late-game disaster in staving off a gritty PGJC-Navy side, 25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 21-25, 15-12, to regain its winning ways in the 2023 Spikers’ Turf Open Conference on Friday at Paco Arena.
Ramirez, who has been the stabilizer of Imus in the past three games, sat out due to school commitments. Coach Sammy Acaylar decided not to field him and let him focus on his requirements at University of Perpetual Help.
The AJAA Spikers still dominated the first two sets even without Ramirez but they flirted with disaster after the duo of Jude Garcia and Greg Dolor carried the Sea Lions to force a decider.
Imus fought back from a 1-5 deficit in the fifth with Kim Malabunga’s kill off a floating ball capping an 8-1 run for a 9-6 advantage. Navy tied the set at 11-all. Ridzuan Muhali and John Rivera conspired for back-to-back clutch spikes followed by an attack error from Dolor to reach match point, 14-11.
Christian Marcelino saved a point for the Sea Lions but a late substitution by Acaylar fielding in Hero Austria for Rivera paid off with the Perpetual Help spiker delivering the match-clinching attack.
“I always tell my players to avoid being complacent because you know the style of Pinoy, every time you win, you get too confident. So what I did is I gave some motivation to them,” Acaylar said in Filipino. “In the fifth set, I told them they have to use their mental toughness and I told them they’re all smart so prove it in the fifth set.”
Malabunga led the way with 15 points built on 11 attacks, three blocks, and an ace, while Austria chipped in 14 points and 21 excellent receptions as Imus improved to 3-1.
Setter Ish Polvorosa had 17 excellent sets and six digs. Muhali finished with 13 markers, while Josh Villanueva added 11 to bounce back from a straight-set loss to Cignal last week.
The Sea Lions dropped to a 1-2 record after giving up 40 errors.
PGJC-Navy banked on Garcia’s game-high 21 points off 18 attacks and three blocks. Dolor chipped in 20 markers, while Marcelino had 10 points and 15 receptions.