Indonesia, hosts Cambodia in Pool A and Thailand, Vietnam in Pool B through to semifinals of the men’s volleyball competition in Southeast Asia’s biennial multi-sports event.

Bangkok, Thailand, May 6, 2023 – It’s all just history repeating itself when Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, all semifinalists at the previous edition in Vietnam two years ago, powered their ways to the highly-anticipated semifinals of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the Olympic Complex Indoor Main Hall in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Volleyball has been a regular medal sport since its inception in the 1977 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with an exception in 1999 in Brunei. Powerhouses Indonesia have already captured 20 medals including 11 gold and 7 silver in the biennial sports extravaganza, while Thailand collected 8 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals and Myanmar claimed 11 medals including 3 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals. 

In the previous episode two years ago in Quang Ninh, Indonesia stunned hosts Vietnam and their cheering home fans in straight sets in the final showdown to reign supreme for two times in a row and 11 titles overall, while World No.64 Thailand, a formidable team which have never missed Top-3 finish in the SEA Games history since 1985, left the competition hall with heads low in great despair following their stunning upset 2-3 loss to Cambodia in the third-place playoff clash.

The 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia saw strong teams from 8 countries strut their stuff to chase their dreams of making the podium. Defending and consecutive two-time champions Indonesia, hosts Cambodia, Singapore and Philippines are in Pool A, with Pool B featuring Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar.

According to the competition format, teams competed in the pool round-robin preliminaries, with only top two teams from each pool through to the cross semifinals. Teams finishing 3rd and 4th places from both pools were relegated to classification round for 5th-8th places in the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia.

Indonesia came back much strong to defend their title and looked very strong offensively with the likes of star spiker Rivan Nurmulki, who landed the Best Scorer Award in the 2023 Indonesian Men’s Proliga. Also strengthening the fired-up outfits included middle blocker Hendra Kurniawan, setter Dio Zulfikri and Farhan Halim, three of them taking the respective Best Blocker, Best Setter and Best Server Awards at the Proliga.

Indonesia topped Pool A as expected to bag 9 points from a clean sweep of three straight wins. They got off to a brilliant start with sensational straight-set 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 win against Philippines on the opening day on May 3. The Indonesians continued their unbeaten streak to overpower Singapore 3-0 (29-27, 25-8, 25-10) on May 4 before stunning hosts Cambodia in convincing straight sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-16 on Saturday, May 6.

The host nation finished second in Pool A with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Singapore came in third position with 3 points from one win against two losses and winless Philippines finished fourth with no point awarded.

Pool A winners Indonesia, coached by Chinese Jeff Jiang, and hosts Cambodia, under guidance of Chinese coach Li Jun, advanced to the Sunday’s semifinals, with Singapore and Philippines relegated to classification round for 5th-8th places.

In-form Thailand, spearheaded by devastating left-hander Amorntep Konhan, the 204cm-tall Kantapat Koonmee, the first Thai who played professionally in Japan with Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler Club at the recent season, and fast attacker Kissada Nilsawai, captured the top spot in Pool B to get themselves back on track after suffering a major setback at the previous edition two years ago.

In the Vietnam Games in 2021, Thailand suffered a shock 2-3 loss to Cambodia in the third-place playoff clash to return empty-handed for the first time in 36 years. Thailand had made the podium continuously since the 1985 Games on home soil in Bangkok, but the 2021 Games in Vietnam turned sour for them as they managed to finish a below-par 4th position with no medal earned.

In Cambodia, Thailand made a strong start in their kickoff campaign with comfortable straight sets 25-20, 25-17, 25-20 win against Malaysia on the first day on May 3. The following day saw the Thai side pull off stunning comeback 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-23) win against Vietnam, silver medallists on their home soil at the previous edition.

In the last preliminary match on May 6, Thailand powered past Myanmar, led by star spiker Aung Thu, in straight sets 25-18, 25-21, 25-17.

At the completion of the pool play on Saturday, Thailand topped Pool B with 9 points from three wins in a row, followed by Vietnam with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Malaysia collected 3 points from one win against two losses to finish 3rd place, with winless Myanmar in 4th place.

With Thailand, coached by Korean Park Ki-Won, himself Chairman of the AVC Coaches Committee, and Vietnam through to the semifinals, Malaysia and Myanmar were relegated to classification round, where they will join Singapore and Philippines to battle it out for 5th-8th places.

On Sunday, the penultimate day of the men’s event, the classification round for 5th-8th places see Singapore take on Myanmar at 12.00pm local time and Malaysia challenge Philippines at 2.30pm.

The semifinals will be held on the same day from 5pm, with Indonesia fighting it out with Vietnam in the 31st SEA Games Final rematch. Hosts Cambodia will go up against Thailand in the other semifinal clash, also the rematch of the third-place playoff clash in the 31 SEA Games in Vietnam. 


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