The Philippine men's volleyball team claimed a historic win as it dethroned reigning four-time champion Thailand in five sets, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15, in the semifinals of the 30th Southeast Asian Games Sunday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
With the stunning upset, the Philippines advanced to the finals for the first time in 42 years or since it finished as runner-up in 1977 when the country first joined the biennial meet.
The players and coaches joined the ecstatic crowd in celebrating the massive victory after Bryan Bagunas nailed the final point for the Philippines.
The team will look to re-write history again when it shoots for the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in men's volleyball against Indonesia on Tuesday.
"I can't explain what I'm feeling now. We're really happy because we got the win today and we're already assured of the silver," said national coach Dante Alinsunurin. "But of course we still need to work later or tomorrow for the upcoming championship."
Bagunas exploded for 27 points including back-to-back blows that sealed the deal in the endgame.
Marck Espejo delivered 20 points and 12 excellent receptions. Kim Malabunga also played a vital role, contributing 14 points highlighted by six kill blocks.
The Philippines saved three match points in the fourth set, thanks to pivotal plays from Bagunas and Malabunga, to drag the world's 39th-ranked team to a deciding set.
The fifth set turned out to be another nip-and-tuck battle as Malabunga and Bagunas conspired in the clutch again, stopping Thailand's attempts to close out the game.
Malabunga forced a final deadlock at 15 before Bagunas put the finishing touches with a monster block and a thunderous spike.
Amorntep Konhan came off the bench and topped for Thailand with 20 points, while Kissada Nilsawai added 16.
With the loss, Thailand's quest for a fifth straight title ended and will instead fight for the bronze against Myanmar on Tuesday.