Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 26, 2017 – Thailand struggled hard in their semi-final clash against formidable Vietnam to produce an incredible come-from-behind 3-2 (22-25 16-25 29-27 25-15 20-18) victory and secure their place in the final of the 29th South East Asian Games Men’s Volleyball Championship at the MITEC Hall 11 on Saturday.
The epic battle was so incredible that no one believed if Thailand, defending and consecutive three-time SEA Games champions, could make a successful comeback. Thailand, which failed to make their mark at the recent Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Surabaya, Indonesia to finish a disappointing 11th place, suffered bitter losses in the first two sets 22-25 16-25.
To everyone’s surprise, Vietnam were still taking a commanding 24-23 lead in the hard-fought third set, needing only one more point to end the Thai challenge. However, the Vietnamese side let the victory slip through their fingers as the three musketeers Jirayu Raksakaew, Kissada Nilsawai and Kitsada Somkane, brought Thailand back on track for the hard-fought 29-27 win in the set.
From then on, Thailand regained their form to take the fourth set 25-15, forcing Vietnam to contest the tie-breaker. The on-going battle became more thrilling when the leads changed hands for several times, but Thailand fared better at the final touch to win the thrilling decider 20-18, match and a final berth.
Jirayu Raksakew led Thailand with 19 points including 17 kills from 38 attempts, while Kissada Nilsawai and Kitsada Somkane handed the winning team 17 points apiece. Aside from scoring 13 through his attack hits, Kissada Nilsawai also had 4 block points. Hong Van Phuong scored a match-high 26 points for Vietnam including 25 kills from 45 attempts.
With the hard-fought win, Thailand advanced to the final of the SEA Games for 13th times, which they had already claimed 7 titles out of 12 contested so far. Thailand will take on Indonesia in the men’s team showdown, with Vietnam challenging Myanmar in the third-place playoff on Sunday.
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