Manila, Philippines, December 2, 2019 – Reigning champions Thailand, Indonesia and hosts Philippines registered their first wins at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s volleyball competition at Philsports Arena in Pasig City on Monday.
Thailand sent a mixed team of veterans and young guns to the 30th edition with an ultimate aim of retaining their title here. Thailand, which finished a disappointing 11th place at this year’s Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Tehran, Iran, had already captured nine gold medals in the SEA Games including four consecutive times in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Led by the two towers, 202cm Kissada Nilsawai and 204cm Kantapat Koonmee, Thailand struggled in the opening set against Singapore in Pool A before going down a close battle 25-27. However, Singapore failed to make the best of their chances and while becoming error-strewn, they let their strong opponents back into the game.
Thailand mixed some powerful attacks from Kantapat and Anuchit Pakdeekaew with solid blocks and well-placed serves by Saranchit Charoensuk to take three sets in a row 25-13 25-16 25-18 for the eventual 3-1 win against Singapore.
Anuchit Pakdeekaew chipped in with 15 points from 11 attacks, 3 blocks and one serve for Thailand, which took an advantage of 27 points from the opponents’ errors. Ajay Singh Shergill topscored with 23 points for Singapore, all from his spectacular attacks.
In Pool B encounters on Monday, Indonesia, which caused a major sensation at the 2017 Asian meet on home soil in Gresik to finish their best-ever fourth place, survived a strong challenge from Vietnam to beat the determined opponents in hard-fought three-setter 25-20 25-22 25-21.
The Indonesia’s great win augurs well for their determined efforts of ending their decade-long gold medal drought in the biennial multi-sport event held among athletes from Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s last gold medal in the SEA Games dated back to 2009 in Vientiane, Laos, where they beat old foes Thailand in the final showdown.
The other Pool B match saw hosts Philippines put it past Cambodia in thrilling three sets 29-27 25-17 25-17.
All the men’s teams will have a rest day on Tuesday. Singapore will next take on Myanmar in Pool A, while Cambodia go up against Indonesia and Philippines meet Vietnam in Pool B on Wednesday.
A total of seven countries took part in the men’s event. Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar are in Pool A, with Pool B comprising Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and hosts Philippines. The pool round-robin preliminaries are being held on December 2, 4 and 6, with only top two teams from each pool advancing to the semi-finals. Teams finishing 3rd and 4th places from each pool will be relegated to classification round for 5th-7th places. The 5th-6th playoff, bronze medal match and the men’s final showdown will take place on December 10.
Meanwhile, only four teams – Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam strut their stuff in the women’s single round-robin competition on December 3, 5 and 7. All participating teams will be ranked respectively up to their performances in the round-robin competition. The top two teams will then battle it out again for the women’s crown on December 9, with teams finishing 3rd and 4th positions from each pool contesting a rematch in the third-place playoff for bronze medal on the same day.
At the previous edition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017, Thailand made a clean sweep of both gold medals at stake in the 29th SEA Games men’s and women’s volleyball competition.
The Thai men pulled off an impressive 3-1 win against Indonesia in the men’s final showdown, while Vietnam powered past Myanmar 3-1 in the third-place playoff.
Thailand also performed brilliantly in the women’s event to thrash Indonesia 3-0 in the final clash, while Vietnam downed Philippines 3-1 in the third-place playoff to claim bronze medal.
The round-robin women’s event will kick off on Tuesday, with Thailand taking on Indonesia in the 2017 final rematch and Philippines challenging Vietnam.
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