SAUDI ARABIA PROVE A CUT ABOVE HOSTS SRI LANKA AT AVC MEN’S CHALLENGE CUP
Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 17, 2018 – Home fans left the Sugayhadasa Indoor Stadium with heads low in disappointment when hosts Sri Lanka went down in closely-contested four sets to Saudi Arabia in their last pool round-robin preliminaries of the 1st AVC Men’s Challenge Cup on Monday.
In their last Pool A round-robin preliminaries, word ranked No.50 Saudi Arabia, which finished 10th at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia, recovered from a sluggish start to stun Sri Lanka 22-25 25-22 25-19 25-20 for a clean sweep in the pool.
Nawaf Albakheet chipped in with 20 points for Saudi Arabia including 15 attacks and 5 solid blocks, while Ahmed Albakheet added 18 points including 10 kills and a team-leading 4 aces. Gunarathna led Sri Lanka with 14 points from 13 attacks and one ace.
Saudi Arabia, which earlier thrashed Malaysia and Hong Kong China with the similar margin 3-1, topped Pool A as expected with 9 points from three straight wins. Sri Lanka finished second with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Malaysia came in third place with 3 points from one win against two losses, with winless Hong Kong China in fourth place.
In their last preliminary match on Monday, Malaysia brushed off Hong Kong China in straight sets 30-28 25-19 25-19. Ramu Ranjit topscored with 16 points for Malaysia including 15 kills from 30 attempts, while Jian Qin Sim kept good company to score 15 points including 13 attacks.
Bangladesh dominated Pool B with 7 points from two wins against one loss. Iraq and the United Arab Emirates came in second and third places after collecting 6 and 5 points respectively following their similar 2-1 record. Mongolia did not win a match to finish fourth in the pool.
In the Monday’s encounters, the United Arab Emirates struggled to beat Iraq in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-18 24-26 23-25 25-22 15-9. Ghulam Amer scored a team-leading 21 points including 20 attacks from 47 attempts. Sultan Almansoori Mubarak added 17 points including a team-leading 6 blocks, while Khamis Alsuwaidi Mohammed handed the UAE another 17 points. Hussain Nameer Shamil led Iraq with 17 points.
Bangladesh, which suffered their first 2-3 defeat at the hands of Iraq, made amends by thrashing the UAE 3-0 before pulling off a fantastic 3-1 win against Mongolia.
At completion of the pool preliminaries on Monday, all participating teams were respectively ranked up to their performances during the three-day preliminaries, with Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Hong Kong China classified ad R1, R2, R3 and R4 respectively. Teams from Pool B comprising Bangladesh, Iraq, the UAE and Mongolia were classified as R5, R6, R7 and R8.
Tuesday is a rest day. The quarter-finals will be held on Wednesday, with Saudi Arabia (R1) taking on Mongolia (R8), Sri Lanka (R2) playing the UAE (R7), Malaysia (R3) facing Iraq (R6) and Hong Kong China (R4) pitted against Bangladesh (R5).
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