Isa Town, Bahrain, June 5, 2024- In-form Philippines pulled off hard-fought win against young Indonesia to next battle it out with Thailand, emerging triumphant in another encounter against Chinese Taipei, in the 9th-10th playoff of the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Men at the Isa Sports City Hall C here.

Contesting the Classification Round for 9th-12th places on Wednesday, Philippines, which succumbed to two straight-set losses to mighty China and hosts Bahrain in the first two days, sealed their first win following their dramatic 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-14, 25-22) victory against Indonesia, while Thailand also made their mark after 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-20) demolition of young Chinese Taipei.

In the first match, the Philippines, which lost in straight sets to Indonesia in the gold-medal match of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on their home soil, performed well against the Indonesia’s future stars, whose age average is 18 years – the youngest opposite Nibras Fauzan coming in at 16 and the oldest middle blocker Yoku Mega Yuri Pradana and opposite Fauzan Rama Fazza at just 22.

Philippines, which finished 10th at the previous edition in Chinese Taipei last year, and the young Indonesians fought hard in the see-saw battle, which saw the former, led by hard-hitting Marck Jesus Espejo and middle blocker Kim Malabunga, take the hard-fought first set 25-23 and the latter regain their pride to claim the second set with the similar margin 25-23 to level it at 1-1.

However, the Philippines came out in full force in the third set, which turned out to be one-way traffic. Taking a narrow 16-14 lead, the Philippines showed no mercy to Indonesia, allowing the young rivals no more chance of fighting back against them to score nine points on the trot or the eventual 25-14 win in this comfortable set.

The fourth set was more competitive. The Philippines bounced back from trailing 8-10 to even it at 10-10 and went on their good show to lead with a two-point clear at 23-21. Jade Alex Disquitado fired a deadly attack to help the Philippines reach the match point at 24-21.

An erratic serve from Espejo saved another life for Indonesia. However, their delight did not last long as Angelo Nic Almendras hammered a powerful attack to completely end the young Indonesians’ challenge.

In the second match, Thailand, reigning champions and 7th place at the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup in Qatar, went down to Kazakhstan in closely-contested five sets in Pool B that put them out of title contention. However, the Thai side revived their fortunes to seal crucial win against Chinese Taipei, fielding a potential U20 squad to this tournament, on Wednesday.


Thailand rested veteran Kissada Nilsawai and Jakkrit Thanomnoi and instead included Presort Pinkaew and Supakorn Jenthaisong in the starting lineup, while formidable outside hitter Jheng Wei-Jhih led the Chinese Taipei’s charge. 

Thailand got off to a great start to lead 19-14 in the first set and stretched it to 23-17, courtesy of powerful attacks and scintillating blocks from Anurak Phanram and Supakorn. The 22-year-old Supakorn, 190cm, fired an aggressive spike to hand Thailand the set point and shortly after that, a spike from Lin Ting-Wei went wide, resulting in the Southeast Asian side’s first set win 25-17.

Thailand continued their combination attacks, good teamwork and well-placed serves in the second set, which they won comfortably 25-15.

The third set saw Chinese Taipei and Thailand play neck and neck. As Anurak led the Thailand’s scoring efforts, Chinese Taipei counter-attacked well to level it at 8-8. Still, with the greater experience and form, Thailand clawed their way back to take the lead with a four-point advantage at 24-19 after Anuchit Pakdeekaew hammered an overpass.

Pan Yi-Jung produced a deadly mid-court attack to save one set point for Chinese Taipei before Thanathat Thaweerat put the icing on the victory cake for Thailand with a swift fast spike 25-20.

Anurak Phanram scored a match-high 19 points from 16 kills and three blocks for Thailand, while fellow outside hitter Supakorn Jenthaisong contributed 11 points including 8 kills. Jheng Wei-Jhih led Chinese Taipei with 12 points including 10 kills from 25 attempts.

Thailand and Philippines will fight it out in the 9th-10th playoff match, with Indonesia taking on Chinese Taipei for the 11th position. 

Meanwhile, the tournament has reached a crescendo on Thursday as top two teams from each pool will battle it out in the the highly-anticipated quarterfinals. Only the winning teams in this crucial phase will advance to the semifinals, with the losers relegated to Classification Round for 5th-8th places.

World No.21 Qatar, which picked up silver medal at the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup to their name, will challenge China, the 2022 AVC Cup winners in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand and silver medallists at the rescheduled Hangzhou Asian Games last year. The world No.31 were relegated from last year’s VNL by virtue of being the bottom-ranked nation in the 16-team field and are attempting to find their way back to the world-class competition.

The other three quarterfinal encounters see world No.54 Kazakhstan go up against world No.34 Australia, world No.49 Pakistan take on world No.53 Vietnam, the only Southeast Asian side in contention for the title, and world No. 66 Bahrain, silver medallists at the previous edition, challenge world No.27 Korea.




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