Osaka, Japan, September 17, 2017 – Lucas Saatkamp and Mauricio Borges played great defence to complete their fourth-straight title winning run in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup, following their 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-22) win over hosts Japan at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on Sunday.
Lucas had four blocks and Mauricio made three blocks out of Brazil’s 12 total blocks against Japan. Lucas top scored with 16 points, while Mauricio finished with 13 points. Brazil converted 43 attacks and nailed four aces, while Japan struggled to get their offence going with only Issei Otake scoring in double figures. Otake charted 10 points, but Akihiro Yamauchi and Masahiro Yanagida only scored six and four points, respectively.
Brazil have completed all seven editions of the Men’s World Grand Champions Cup with podium finishes, making them the most successful team in the history of the competition.
Brazil showed that they were on a mission to win the title, as their blockers jammed the path of the Japanese attacks, which facilitated their huge winning margins. After showing excellent defence, Brazil asserted their dominance on offence. Even though Japan gave Brazil a great fight towards the end, the latter still finished the match in straight sets.
Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto: Overall, I think this has been a fantastic competition. The technical level was very high and we had a rematch of the Olympic final so being able to win such a title makes me very happy. In today’s match against Japan, we knew we had to win so we were a bit nervous. We were playing the home team, so it was a difficult game, but we were doing our best and were able to win. The third set was very competitive but we were able to prevail. I want to congratulate the hard work of the Brazilian team throughout this competition.
Brazil captain Bruno Rezende: We kept our focus in this match. We knew that Japan are a quality team and have high respect for them, that’s why we kept our composure in the first two sets. In the third set, Japan started to apply pressure on us and their service got better. That put us in a tough situation but we were able to fight through it and win.
Japan are in a new cycle and they seem to have some new, younger and taller players. They seem to be heavier. Last time we played them, they seemed a bit lightweight and not so tall. They always made up for this with good defence but at this level of competition you need height. For us, we’ve added younger players to the Olympic team and this new generation of players have started to blend well and it’s a good start for our campaign for Tokyo 2020.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi: We knew that playing against world No. 1 Brazil would be an uphill battle. Until the end of the third set, we couldn’t show what we wanted to do, but in the end the players were shouting out loud and really expressing themselves. But it was too little, too late. However, I think the players realised the meaning of expressing themselves like this.
Today, (Naonobu) Fujii and (Haku) Ri allowed Bruno and Lucas to do what they wanted. We used (Taishi) Onodera for a lengthy outing and gave him more of a chance. When they targeted him with their service, his lack of technique and rough edges showed. However, when he was on court, Brazil’s offence shifted to the middle and left, so his presence did have an impact.
Looking towards Tokyo 2020, we need more tall players like Onodera. Overall in this competition, in the first half Ishikawa couldn’t get going, so we kind of lost direction as a result and that showed our immaturity as a team. Maybe also our conditioning was poor and we need to think more about that especially before major competitions. It was our first opportunity this year to play against top-level teams and obviously the players realised the gap there is between them and us. We want to face more teams with height and power and find ways out of our problems. We need to develop players like Onodera.
Japan player Issei Otake: In today’s game, I was too conscious that the oppositions were Brazil, so I was a bit nervous. I calmed down as match went on but I was still a bit anxious. In the third set, we organised our thoughts better and competed better and that’s the way we should do it.
Japan player Noanobu Fujii: Today’s match really reminded me of my lack of ability. At this level, the middle blockers are all tall, so they are a level or two above my level. Also, at this level, the serves are so strong so responding to that is tough.
Japan player Taishi Onodera: Today’s match was against the world No. 1, Brazil, and having changed position just a month ago, it was a great experience for me. However, I didn’t play as well as I wanted and there are many things I have to resolve.
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