DAY 4 WRAP UP
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 7, 2019 – Title-hotshots Japan demolished China 3-1 and in-form Pakistan downed Sri Lanka with same margin in the Top 8 playoff encounters to maintain their remarkable unbeaten records at the SMM 3rd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.
Aside from Pool B winners Japan and Pool C frontrunners Pakistan, the other teams in the round of the Top 8 which sealed the Wednesday’s victories comprised Pool C second place Chinese Taipei and Pool D top spot India.
Chinese Taipei struggled to beat Pool A winners Australia in hard-fought three-setter 38-36 25-23 25-16, with talented Chang Yu-Sheng chipping in with 22 points for the winning side and Chan Minhan keeping good company to add 15 points. Thomas Heptinstall led Australia with 12 points.
Chinese Taipei, bronze medallists at the previous two editions 2015 in Myanmar and 2017 in Iran, next go up against Sri Lanka on Thursday, while Australia will be pitted against Pakistan. The undefeated Pakistani team on Wednesday survived a serious threat from Sri Lanka to beat the fighting oppositions in dramatic four sets 25-17 25-20 21-25 30-28.
Japan, silver medalists at the previous edition in Ardabil, Iran two years ago, also made their mark on Wednesday as the pre-race faovurites extended their invincible run after cruising past the spirited China in thrilling four sets 25-20 24-26 25-21 25-19. Japan will next take on India, which saw off Kazakhstan in straight sets 25-21 25-17 25-20 on Wednesday. The Kazakh side will next compete against China on Thursday.
In the classification round for 9th-16th places, hosts Myanmar, spearheaded by two national spikers, Aung Zaw Htet and Ya Htike Wai, produced a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21) victory over gallant Qatar, while debutants Bahrain pulled off a well-earned four-set 25-16 25-19 23-25 25-17 win against Hong Kong China. Bahrain will next challenge the host team, while Hong Kong China will play Qatar.
Meanwhile, Thailand smashed Saudi Arabia’s sweet dreams of winning their very first match in this topnotch championship by brushing off the unfancied rivals in four-setter 25-16 22-25 25-22 25-10. Tall Kantapat Koonmee chipped in with 25 points from 19 attacks, 3 blocks and 3 aces for Thailand, third place in Pool D. Wesam Algihani topscored with 16 points for Saudi Arabia, which won their very first set in Nay Pyi Taw in this match against Thailand after they suffered three straight losses earlier in Pool B.
Thailand will next take on Vietnam, which also beat New Zealand with same margin 3-1 (25-19 20-25 25-21 25-21), on Thursday, while Saudi Arabia will play the Kiwis. Vietnam did not perform well at the inaugural episode here in Nay Pyi Taw to return with a distant 15th place four years ago and did not compete in the previous edition in Iran two years later. In their second attempts in the Myanmar capital, the Vietnamese have their sights set on an improved performance in this top-tier championship.
The playoff encounters among the Top 8 teams and the lower-ranked sides for 9th-16th places continue on Thursday before all participating teams will be ranked respectively according to their performances. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be held later on Friday and Saturday, while the final showdown will take place on Sunday.
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