ROMESH’S 29 LIFT LANKA LIONS’ EPIC 3-2 COMEBACK WIN AGAINST NAKHONRATCHASIMA
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 1, 2018 – Formidable Lanka Lions produced a magnificent come-from-behind 3-2 (20-25 23-25 25-16 25-23 15-11) victory over Nakhonratchasima The Mall VC to capture the Pool C top spot in their last pool round-robin preliminary match at the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B on Wednesday.
Romesh Hehathpurage Deepthi scored a match-high 29 points including 25 kills from 37 attempts, while Methmal Gonaragamage Lasindu added 14 points. Jirayu Raksakew chipped in 17 points for the losing side, assisted by Wanchai Tabwises and Kittinon Namkhunthod, who scored 13 and 11 points respectively.
Nakhonratchasima and Lanka Lions have yet lost a match to their respective rivals heading to clash with each other on Wednesday and both sides entered the competition with heads high in great pride.
Lanka Lions started a nervous first set which saw the rivals pull their lead with a 3-point clear at 5-2, forcing Serbian Dejan Vulicevic, head coach of the Sri Lankan side, to call a timeout to improve his team’s fortunes. His intention paid its dividends when Lanka Lions made a successful comeback, with powerful Romesh Hehathpurage Deepthi in a seismically powerful display. Both teams met at 11-11 and from then started to take turns stealing the leads. With scoring machine Jirayu Raksakaew brilliantly orchestrating the Nakhonratchasima’s offence, Lanka Lions found it tough going in the game. As Janitha Sbashingha Arachchilage chipped in with a precision on-the-line ace to help the Sri Lankans narrow the margin 20-23, the Thai team bagged straight two points for the hard-fought 25-20 win.
The second set turned out to be a similar script as both teams fought it all out. Trailing with just one point behind at 5-6, Lanka Lions gathered their courage and started to enjoy the blocking spree. The Sri Lankans met Nakhonratchasima 7-7 and went on their aggressive attacks to lead by wide margin 15-11. However, the Thai side picked up points when they need to most and they caught the tough rivals at 20-20. Nakhon Ratchasima allowed Lanka Lions three more points before cruising to a close 25-23 win.
The Sri Lankans made a strong comeback in the third set to take a commanding lead with an 8-point clear at 13-5. Nakhonratchasima started to replace their best players and instead fielded substitutions including Chakkit Chadahuadong, Pitak Ausoongnoen and Boonyarid Wongtorn to go down 16-25.
The fourth set was closely contested from start to finish. Lanka Lions chased from trailing 17-20 to meet the rivals at 20-20 and went on their exceptional performance to win the thrilling set 25-23.
Lanka Lions remained in awesome form to win the decider 15-11, with Romesh scoring the team’s last two points through his thundering attacks.
With three wins in a row, Lanka Lions topped Pool C with 8 points to be classified as R7.
“We did not start well. We had pressure possibly because we played first time in the morning. Some players did not give their best form today. However, win or loss, it doesn’t matter since I think it’s still more difficult to play Myanmar than to play Turkmenistan if we win this match. However, we have to move on. Actually, we prepared for playing five sets. After we lost the second set, we changed some players and things started to get better. We started well in the tie-breaker and after 3-5 points lead, it’s easier to play and pressure will go to the other side,” commented Serbian Dejan Vulicevic, head coach of Lanka Lions.
Vullicevic said his team have initially set their sights on giving their best performance in this championship and if possible, he would like his side to play stronger sides such as teams from Japan and Iran. He will be coaching the Sri Lankans for five months.
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