Out of quarterfinals, PH volleybelles stay unfazed as they eye 5th place
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand — Team Philippines quickly became known here for strong court presence as well as for its winsome, pretty players.
So it’s not surprising that when the news came of its exclusion from the quarterfinals, the Philippines simply brushed it off — and with a hair flip so to speak.
The team went down the to pump weights in the Sima Thani Hotel gym before heading to lunch Wednesday. The Filipinas are set to watch Korea-Chinese Taipei quarterfinal match at Korat Sanchai Hall before heading to the swanky Terminal 21 Mall.
“No need to think about what could have been, we are taking it very positive and move forward,” said coach Shaq delos Santos.
The Philippines, with Alyssa Valdez, Mylene Paat and Aby Marano leading the charge, destroyed Kazakhstan Tuesday night to post its first win in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Asian Cup here.
The win could have easily qualified the country to the quarterfinals, but tournament used a new format that automatically seeded six teams in Groups A and B (China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Chinese Taipei) to the quarterfinals based on their performances in the Asian Championships last year.
No wonder Japan, fielding its Team B, remained unfazed by its two losses in Group A. Chinese Taipei finished the preliminaries without a win in Group B.
That left the teams in Group C composed of Australia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Philippines to fight for the last two slots in the quarters. Australia and Iran came from behind to beat the Philippines via five sets.
“The team takes this as a blessing in disguise,” said Delos Santos. “We played 14 sets in three matches, we need to recover and rest.”
He said that had the Philippines made the quarterfinals, it would have played four straight days and ended up facing a top ranked team.
“And now we have two days to prepare. Today we had weights training and then tomorrow ball training,” added Delos Santos. “Now we are in better shape to come up with higher placing.”
They will face on Friday the loser of the Korea-Taipei match in the classification match. A win would line the Philippines up for battle for seventh place, while a loss would toss it to a contest for 9th.
The best scenario is for the country to win on Friday and then on Saturday against a still undetermined opponent to finish fifth, its best ever in the tournament.
“In reality, we are fighting in the level of 5th down,” said Delos Santos. “We are not there yet, but we are getting there.”
With the way they played in the preliminaries, it’s only a matter of time before the Filipinas — the sport’s biggest stars back home — take the spotlight.
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