Tournament format eliminates PH gals, but team still preparing for classification round
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand—After a dramatic victory rendered moot by a change of tournament format, Team Philippines brushed off the news of its exclusion from the quarterfinals with the nonchalance of a hair flip.
Instead, it focused on what it still can control and went on with its scheduled workout at Sima Thani Hotel’s gym before heading to lunch Wednesday. The Filipinos are set to watch the Korea-Chinese Taipei quarterfinal duel at Korat Chatchai Hall before heading off for a break at Terminal 21 Mall.
“No need to think about what could have been, we are taking it very positive and moving forward,” said coach Shaq delos Santos.
The Philippines, with Alyssa Valdez, Mylene Paat and Aby Maraño 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 the 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.
Thus, Chinese Taipei qualified despite going winless in the preliminary round and Japan advanced with little worry over its two losses suffered by its Team B.
That left the teams in Group C—Australia, Iran, Kazakhstan and the Philippines—to fight for the last two slots in the quarters. Australia and Iran came from behind to beat the Philippines in 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.
“And now we have two days to prepare. Today we had weights training and then tomorrow ball training. Now we are in better shape to come up with a higher placing.”
They will face on Friday the loser of the Korea-Taipei duel in the classification match. A win would line the Philippines up for a battle for seventh place, while a loss would toss it to a contest for ninth.
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 fifth down,” said Delos Santos. “We are not there yet, but we are getting there.”