Spikers’ Turf: NU, Letran bolster Finals bids
MANILA, Philippines — National University-Sta. Elena and Saints and Lattes-Letran boosted their championship chances after taking down separated foes in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference on Saturday at Philsports Arena.
Bouncing back from their four-set loss to NU less than 24 hours ago, Letran kept its final hopes alive after beating Japanese team Maruichi Hyogo, 23-25, 25-13, 25-23, 25-20.
Middle blocker Vince Himzon led the Saint Spikers with 21 points built on 15 attacks, five blocks, and an ace, while Felix Bermido chipped in 11 points to tie the Nationals at 2-1, behind semis leader Cignal (2-0) with the only top two teams advancing to the Final on Friday next week at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
“They responded to my instruction to utilize our middle because the Japanese are quick,” said Letran coach Brian Esquibel, who drew impressive plays from setter Wayne Arano finishing with 23 excellent sets.
Bem-Bem Bautista was also instrumental for Letran with 15 points and 12 excellent receptions, while Steven Sta. Maria also scored 15 off 13 attacks, two blocks, and an ace, sending Maruichi Hyogo to the brink of missing the final with a 0-2 record.
Coming off a losing debut to Cignal on Friday, Yuji Kawagoe carried the Japanese with a game-high 24 points on 22 attacks and two aces, while captain Hinata Kuroda tallied 18 points on 17 attacks and an ace that went with five excellent digs.
Meanwhile, NU-Sta. Elena made short work of Perpetual-Kinto Tyres, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21, for its second straight win in the semis.
Nico Almendras led the Nationals with 14 points on 11 attacks, two aces, and one block on top of 12 excellent receptions, while Leo Ordiales stepped up with 12 points on 11 attacks and one block.
Jade Disquitado and Rwenzmel Taguibolos, who combined for five kill blocks in the victory, contributed 10 points apiece while Obed Mukaba added nine markers.
Perpetual Help also fell to a 0-2 card with Jefferson Marapocleading leading the way with eight points as star Louie Ramirez was held to just seven markers.