DAY 5 WRAPUP
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 8, 2019 – Pakistan and Japan, the only two unbeaten teams in this top-tier competition, captured the top spots in respective Pool E and Pool F to lead march to the quarter-finals of the SMM 3rd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship, chasing their dreams of making the top four teams.
At the end of the Top 8 playoffs on Thursday, Pakistan emerged as the Pool E frontrunners with 9 points from three straight wins, followed by Chinese Taipei with 6 points from two wins against one loss and Australia with 3 points from one win against two losses. Sri Lanka came in fourth place in Pool E with three losses in a row and with no point awarded.
Japan, silver medallists at the previous edition two years ago in Ardabil, Iran, also became one of the strongest teams to be reckoned with in this edition as the formidable rivals have yet lost to any team en route to the quarter-finals. The Pool F winners had 8 points from three successive wins, while India finished second in the Pool with 6 points from two wins against one loss. China and Kazakhstan came in third and fourth places with 4 points and no point respectively.
The knockout quarter-final encounters on Friday see Pakistan take on Kazakhstan and Japan play Sri Lanka, while Chinese Taipei go up against China and India challenge Australia. The four winning teams will advance to the Saturday’s semi-finals.
On Thursday, the last day of the Top 8 playoff matches, in-form Pakistan struggled hard to beat the determined Australia in hard-fought straight sets 29-27, 25-23, 25-21. Ali Usman Faryad chipped in with 15 points including 14 attacks for Pakistan, while Ethan Garrett led Australia with 14 points including 12 attacks from 19 attempts.
Chinese Taipei proved a cut above Sri Lanka to topple the taller rivals in another closely-contested, straight-set battle 26-24, 25-23, 26-24. Chang Yu-Sheng led Chinese Taipei with 20 points including 18 kills, while Yen Chen-Fu contributed 10 points through his attack hits and well-placed serves. Kavindu Chandrasiri topscored with 21 points for Sri Lanka.
Chang Yu-Sheng said, “We are very tired and all of the team members were not in a good condition physically today. Despite powerful attacks from our rivals, we tried to overcome them and win the match in straight sets and we did.”
Gritty Japan, powered by hard-hitting Hiroki Ozawa and Cole Watanabe, struggled to beat India with a terrific comeback win 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 18-25, 15-12.
China, in their usual style with speed and amazing defensive combinations, proved once again a well-oiled machine as Sun Xiaoshuai, Lin Haikun, Guo Shunxiang and Tao Zixuan all scored double digits, with Guo on fire to chip in with 13 points including 12 attacks from 23 attempts. China also took advantage of the opponent errors with 34 points against the Kazakhstan’s 26.
Meanwhile, in the 9th-16th playoff encounters, Bahrain stunned Myanmar and their home fans with a convincing straight-set 25-21 25-22 25-22 win, leaving the die-hard fans to leave the competition venue with heads low in despair.
Bahrain, fielding more individual talents who finished eighth in FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship at home, silenced the cheering home crowds inside the hall with their exceptional tactics.
Abbas Hasan emerged as the top scorer of Bahrain after scoring 19 points including 18 kills from 31 attempts. Ya Htike Wai topscored with 16 points including 15 attacks for Myanmar.
Qatar, the other Arab Volleyball team, clinched their first win after five days of the championship following a well-earned 3-1 (25-13, 25-18, 23-25, 27-25) win against Hong Kong China.
Al Sayed Faisal scored a match-high 28 points from 22 kills and a team-leading 6 aces, while Abed Amro was in incredible form to score 6 block points. Leung Ho Yin led Hong Kong China with 16 points.
Meanwhile, Vietnam found Thailand an impossible nut to crack to go down fighting in exciting four sets 20-25, 25-22, 19-25, 23-25.
The Pool H winners Thailand will next challenge hosts Myanmar, which finished second in Pool G, while Vietnam will go up against Pool G frontrunners Bahrain.
As Qatar recorded their first win on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s efforts have finally succeeded in breaking the deadlock with their convincing straight-set 25-22 25-20 25-17 victory over New Zealand, which was their very first win in this top-flight championship.
Aedh Aldawsari chipped in with 16 points from 12 attacks, 2 blocks and two aces for Saudi Arabia, while Ryan Gunn topscored with 15 points for the Kiwis including 14 attacks from 28 attempts.
The competitive competition continues through Sunday when the curtains come down on the awards presentation and the closing ceremony of the Championship.
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