Golden bronze for Alas Pilipinas

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Golden bronze for Alas Pilipinas
The Alas Pilipinas belles celebrate their mighty conquest of Team Australia for third place in the AVC Challenge Cup.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Alas Pilipinas made a big breakthrough in the AVC Women’s Challenge Cup, cracking the Top 3 of an Asian event for the first time ever with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-7 conquest of Australia before an ecstatic full-house crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum yesterday.

Stopped on their tracks by Kazakhstan the previous day, the brave, tenacious bunch of coach Jorge Souza de Brito regrouped and bounced back mightily for the historic third-place finish.

For never had a Philippine volleyball team claimed a medal outside Southeast Asia – the closest brush was that of a fourth-place windup in the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games.

Solid games from multiple sources like Angel Canino, Sisi Rondina, Eya Laure and Thea Gagate on the wondrous setting job by Jia de Guzman did the trick for the Nationals versus the Aussies.

For Alas Pilipinas’ magnificence, Sen. Bong Go, who was at the gallery during the bronze-medal match, announced an incentive of P200,000 for each of the players through the Philippine Sports Commission.

And that’s apart from the love and adoration the Nationals drew from the fans in their entire journey.

In the finale, Vietnam trounced Kazakhstan, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, to defend its crown.

Canino, Rondina, Laure and Gagate delivered at least 10 points each as Alas Pilipinas repeated its disposal of Australia in the group play, essaying an effort that may have validated Philippine volleyball’s rise.

The Filipinas rode on a strong start, racing to a 20-14 lead before slowing down and opening an opportunity for the Volleyroos to mount a rally. But the hosts wouldn’t be denied, taking the opening set at 25-23.

And the Nationals wouldn’t lower down their guards from there, beating the Aussies by 10 in the second and by 18 in the third to close out a performance to remember in this tourney.

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