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Sports

IEM cops VL inaugural men’s plum

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Instituto Estetico Manila showed nerves of steel as it outlasted a gritty Systema Tooth & Gum Care side in a pulsating 25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 14-25, 15-12 victory in sudden death yesterday to emerge the first Shakey’s V-League men’s champion at The Arena in San Juan City.

Rudy Gatdula rammed in a vicious kill off Rocky Honrade and Chris Macasaet as the Volley Masters finished off the Active Smashers in two hours and six minutes and capture the men’s championship staked for the first time in the 11-year history of the annual league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza and backed by Mikasa and Accel.

“It feels good to help write history as being the first men’s champion of the Shakey’s V-League,” said an ecstatic Instituto coach Ernesto Balubar as his players and IEM supporters whooped it up at centercourt after Gatdula’s championship attack.

In the end, it boiled down to execution as the Volley Masters pounced on the Active Smashers’ three early miscues in the decider to wrest a 5-1 cushion which they used as the springboard to capture the crown in a match that featured a series of power, quick and combination plays, running and backrow attacks, terrific blocking and superb court coverage.

But the IEM spikers proved up to the task in the final reckoning. Their spectacular save of what had appeared to be a clear point for Systema turned out to be the clincher as they kept a three-point lead at 12-9 instead of the Active Smashers closing in at 10-11.

Systema did fight back with a block to make it 10-12 but IEM won three of the last six points, including Gatdula’s clincher of a crosscourt attack off Honrade and Macasaet that came after Systema kept the ball in play with two blocks

“I just told the players to jump the gun on them on the fifth set,” said Balubar, a calculus teacher on the side at Quezon City High School.

Jeffrey Jimenez fired 15 kills and finished with 16 points while Karl Ian dela Calzada and Gatdula backed him up with 14 and 10 markers, respectively.

Conference MVP Jimenez also stood out as he completed a treble by bagging the Finals MVP honors.

“It’s an honor to win these trophies and the championship for my team,” said Jimenez, who played college ball for PATTS.

ACTIVE SMASHERS

CALZADA AND GATDULA

ERNESTO BALUBAR

GATDULA

GUM CARE

HONRADE AND MACASAET

INSTITUTO ESTETICO MANILA

SHAKEY

SYSTEMA

VOLLEY MASTERS

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