New Zealand and Japan battle it out in the women’s showdown of the AVC Continental Cup Semi-finals

Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, June 18, 2021 – The Philippines crashed out of the AVC Continental Cup Semi-finals as they succumbed to semi-final defeats, with their men’s teams going down to Australia and their women’s pairings losing to New Zealand in the Golden Match at the competition venue in front of Mida Grande Hotel Dhavaravati Nakhon Pathom here on Friday.

Australia advanced to the men’s showdown against Japan on Saturday at 9am Bangkok time, vying for the lone ticket to the Finals between June 25 and 27 at the same competition site.

New Zealand will contest a final clash against Japan in the women’s event on the same day at 11am. However, although the final match has yet started, both New Zealand and Japan have already secured their Finals berth as top two teams from the AVC Continental Cup Semi-finals have been confirmed earlier to make the cut for the Finals.

The women’s event featured only three qualified teams (federations) to test their mettle in the Semi-finals, while five teams (federations) qualified for the men’s Semi-finals from June 18 to 19.

In the men’s event, the Philippines gave their fans back home watching the match via live streaming provided by AVC something to cheer for as they recovered from one match down to take a 1-1 tie and went on their superb form to beat Lebanon in the deciding Golden Match for an eventual 2-1 win.

Jeanabi Chedid/Joe El Azzi combined well to beat Philippines 1’s Jaron Requinton/James Buytrago 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) in 46 minutes to give Lebanon an initial 1-0 lead. However, Jude Garcia/Anthony Lemuel Jr Arbasto saved the day for the Philippines as they overcame the scorching heat and Lebanon 2’s Paul Bou Akl/Salba Chafic after fantastic comeback 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 18-16) win for a 1-1 tie.

In the Golden Match, Filipinos Jude Garcia/Jaron Requinton made their mark after cruising to a convincing 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win against Lebanon’s Paul Bou Akl/Joe El Azzi, securing their semi-final berth against Australia in the afternoon session.

However, things turned sour for the Philippines as they could not go that far. Their men’s teams went down to the much stronger Australians in both matches, with Jaron Requinton/James Buytrago losing a one-sided battle against Australia 1’s Christopher Hugh/Damien Schumann 11-21, 15-21 in 34 minutes.

In the second match, Filipinos Jude Garcia/Anthony Lemuel Jr Arbasto could not go the distance due to their unexpected injury in the second set to go down 0-2 to Australians Maximilian Guehrer/Zachery Schubert.

With a perfect sweep of both matches, Australia advanced to the Saturday’s final showdown, where they will go up against Japan.

“It was our first game here in Thailand. A Philippine player had an injury in the second set and I hope it’s not too bad for him. We next play Japan in the final match of the Semi-finals and we are looking forward to that match tomorrow,” Maximilian said at the Mixed Zone.

Japan on Friday survived a scare from Kazakhstan to make a clean sweep of both matches. Yoshiumi Hasegawa/Takumi Takahashi gave Japan an initial 1-0 lead following their 2-1 (21-15, 23-25, 15-8) victory over Kazakhstan 1’s Dmitriy Yakovlev/Sergey Bogatu.

The second match also ended in another exhausting battle, with Japan 2’s Kensuke Shoji/Masato Kurasaka pulling off a come-from-behind 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 18-16) triumph against Kazakhstan 2’s Alexey Sidorenko/Kirill Gurin for the Japan’s eventual two-match win.

The Philippines suffered a double blow when their women’s teams were eliminated 1-2 by New Zealand.

Filipinas Floremel Rodriguez/Baby Love Barbon found New Zealand 2’s Alice Zeimann/Shaunna Marie Polley too strong to go down in comfortable affair 14-21, 13-21 in 33 minutes, giving the Kiwis a chance to gain an upper hand from the beginning.

However, Cherry Ann Rondina/Bernadeth Pons regained the lost pride as they avenged the loss with a dramatic 21-12, 17-21, 15-9 win against Australia 1’s Francesca Kirwan/Olivia MacDonald to keep the Philippines’ high hopes of advancing to the Saturday’s final showdown alive following a 1-1 tie.

In the Golden Match to determine the eventual winners, New Zealand’s Alice Zeimann/Shaunna Marie Polley struggled to beat Cherry Ann Rondina/Bernadeth Pons with a magnificent 2-1 (19-21, 21-10, 15-12) triumph, completely ending the Philippines’ challenge in the two-day Semi-finals.

For the Philippines, they tried to bring the best out of their teams despite coming off one year of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But regardless of the result, playing in the AVC Continental Cup is a great jumpstart to their golden quest in the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam this November.

With the 2-1 win against the Philippines, New Zealand set up a final showdown with Japan on Saturday. Win or lose, the Kiwis and Japan have already qualified for the Finals.

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