Coach Shaq on Thai spikers: ‘They’re the gold standard’
JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Philippines returns to Asian Games volleyball action on Sunday, August 19, against a familiar foe that tormented many a national team in the past –Thailand.
The Philippines-Thailand match is set at the Bulungan Sports Hall inside the sprawling main hub of competitions of the 18th edition of the Games, the Gelora Bung Karno complex.
Game time is set at 12:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. in Manila) with the Philippines hunting for a massive victory over the Thais, the most powerful volleyball team in the Southeast Asian region.
So dominating are the Thais that the last time a Philippine team beat them was in 1993 in the gold-medal match of the Singapore SEA Games.
But Philippine volleyball was never the same again after that while the Thais frolicked with 11 straight Southeast Asian Games crown.
It was only in 2005 when the Philippines made a dent of sorts by claiming bronze in the 2005 SEA Games the country hosted. That, however, was the last time a national women’s team was sent to the biennial regional games.
Experience, perhaps, would be the most the volleybelles could gain from these Games as Thailand is not the only team the Filipinas has to be worried about. Japan, China and Korea—and even host Indonesia—all have superior skills in the sport.
For head coach Shaq de los Santos, facing the Thais would never be easy. But the excitement generates a gauge as to where Philippine women’s volleyball really stand amid the popularity of the sport back home.
“We’re very excited to play them because they are the gold standard in Asian volleyball,” said Delos Santos, whose wards are coming off a two-week training in Okayama and Osaka, Japan.
“We improved, yes. But of course, we’re still in the process of developing the chemistry and character of the team. We know it’s not an overnight process, but we need tough competitions like this to develop it.”
After Thailand, the Philippines clash with Japan on Tuesday, Hongkong on Thursday and Indonesia on Saturday. (LOOK: 2018 Asian Games PH women’s volleyball schedule)
Delos Santos reiterated that their goal is not really to win the gold medal, but just to come up with a strong performance to gain experience and build momentum for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host next year.
“This kind of exposure is very valuable to our goal of coming up with a podium finish in the SEA Games next year,” said Delos Santos, vowing to play their hearts out in their first Asian Games appearance since the 1982 edition in New Delhi.
“We waited for a very long time to make it back to the Asian Games so we might as well give everything we’ve got. We trained hard for this. We’re ready.”
Skipper Aby Maraño will lead the campaign together with star players Jaja Santiago, Mika Reyes, Alyssa Valdez, Kim Fajardo and Dawn Macandili, the second best libero in Asia.
Also in the squad are Mylene Paat, Cha Cruz-Behag, Jia Morado, Dindin Manabat, Kianna Dy and Majoy Baron.
Denden Lazaro and Maika Ortiz are also here but were listed as reserves. – Rappler.com
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