On the verge of being swept, Saints and Lattes-Letran completed a reverse sweep instead, overcoming a two-set deficit against Davies Paint-Adamson and pulling off a stirring 20-25, 26-28, 25-16, 25-17, 15-12 victory in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference Sunday thriller at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Knights didn’t only halt the Soaring Falcons’ three-game run but more importantly, they tied their victim at 3-1 to stay in strong contention for the other quarterfinal slot in Pool C.
Powerhouse Cignal HD is a cinch to clinch the first berth with a current 4-0 (win-loss) mark.
That sends Letran and Adamson to must-win games in their respective final elims assignments. However, while the Knights will face the winless Coast Guard side on Dec. 1, the Soaring Falcons will have to hurdle the fancied HD Spikers next Sunday.
"Actually ginising ko sila nung third set eh. Sabi ko hindi pwedeng ganito yung lalaruin natin kasi pinaghandaan natin yang Adamson... nagrespond naman sila nung third and fourth kaya maganda yung momentum na napapunta sa amin," said Knights head coach Brian Esquibel.
Bounce back the Knights did. After forcing the decider, Letran still faced defeat after trailing 5-9. But the Knights struck back again behind Ned Pacquing before Derrick Bautista and Steven Sta. Maria, who stepped up and connived in the stretch to snatch the win on a big 10-3 closing assault.
Sta. Maria's final attack was initially called out but Esquibel contested it for a block touch, leading to Letran’s successful challenge to the delight of the Knights and their supporters.
Vince Himzon delivered 19 points, Sta. Maria made 18 markers, while Pacquing and Bautista contributed 16 and 14 points, respectively. Bautista also capped his game with 15 excellent receptions in the two-hour, eight-minute encounter.
Adamson drew 18 points from Marc Paulino and Jude Aguilar (16), Joel Menor (14), and Leo Coguimbal (10) added 16, 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the Soaring Falcons, who crumbled and failed to re-group in the face of the Knights’ searing finish.