PH spikers leave Thai tourney with a win
NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand—A hastily-formed Philippine team banked on talent and court smarts to turn back Kazakhstan Saturday and avoid finishing last in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Asian Cup here.
Mylene Paat and Cha Cruz, relying more on potent volleyball IQ than on power, scored a combined nine points in the fifth set as the Filipinos scored a 25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-8 triumph, that sealed a ninth-place finish in the tournament.
“Not a bad performance, not at all,” said head coach Shaq delos Santos, who revealed that the squad only got to practice as a team one day before the tournament began.
“The Creamline players were already here for their camp, and joined the team when we arrived one day before our first match,” said Delos Santos, referring to PVL stars Alyssa Valdez, Melissa Gohing, Jia Morado and Jema Galanza.
“Jia, our setter, only had one day to practice with the rest of the team,” added Delos Santos.
Still the Philippines, equipped not only with star power but also with corporate funding by Rebisco, managed to rattle Australia and Iran in the group stage, forcing five-set thrillers on both before yielding.
Mika Reyes, one of the team leaders, said they struggled to create chemistry but in the end managed to keep the campaign together.
“We can’t finish in top 5 or top 3 that quickly, we know that it will take time,” said Reyes. “With the short span of time, we made big adjustments.”
The Philippines beat Kazakhstan also in the Group stage but lost to South Korea in the playoffs, sliding back to the battle for ninth.
In those battles, Reyes said they took pride that they put up gallant stand.
“The breaks of those games (Australia and Iran) didn’t go our way, but we played to the best our individual talent could do,” added Delos Santos. “That’s why we need more of these top-level tournaments.”
The Philippines had recently participated in the Asian Games, where they also got a taste of top-flight competition.
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