2019 ASEAN Grand Prix: Thailand overpowers undermanned Philippines

Mark Escarlote on Oct 05, 2019 06:57 PM
Thailand overpowers undermanned Philippines
Thailand silenced the home crowd with a straight sets win over the Philippines. (File photo)

STA. ROSA, Laguna --- Powerhouse Thailand proved too much for an undermanned Philippines side as the visiting team claimed its second straight win 25-12, 25-16, 25-10  on Saturday in the ASEAN Grand Prix second leg at the Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Gym here. 

Pitted against a home squad down to only 10 available players, the Thais overwhelmed the Filipinas in front of their home crowd to collect their second win in as many games to move within a win to duplicate their golden conquest in their own turf in Nakhon Ratchasima two weeks ago.

Thailand, which yielded a set to the Philippines in the first leg, goes for another sweep in the four-nation tournament on Sunday in a showdown with winless Vietnam.

Pimchaya Kokram led Thailand's assault with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks while Sittirak Onuma got 10 markers highlighted by eight kills. Malika Kanthong and crowd-darling Pleumjit Thinkaow combined for 14 points for the Thais, who exploited the Filipinas' suspect service reception game to land 10 aces.      

The Nationals, who missed the services of top hitter Alyssa Valdez, Maddie Madayag, starting setter Jia Morado and Jovelyn Gonzaga because of club commitments in Iloilo, dropped to a 1-1 win-loss slate.

“Unang-una, alam namin kung anong klaseng team ang Thailand, so kami, ang best thing na magagawa namin para sa game, gagawin namin,” said Philippines head coach Shaq Delos Santos.

“But of course, nasa process pa rin kami ng team and hindi siya madaling gawin kasi hindi kami yung team na matagal nang binuo, at medyo kulang din sa time, so yung continuation na lang ng team namin para mas maging maganda ‘yung takbo ng team,” he added.

Backup playmaker Jasmin Nabor, who started for the Nationals for the first time in just her second tour of duty, tried her best to hold the Filipinas together going up against Thailand’s seasoned setter Pornpun Guedpard.

Veterans Mylene Paat, Ces Molina, first leg Best Middle Blocker Majoy Baron, Grethcel Soltones, who replaced injured Kalei Mau, and libero Dawn Macandili had their moments to keep the home crowd cheering but the Thais’ firepower and the overwhelming odds stacked against the Filipinas were just too hard to overcome.       

The Nationals got a taste of the lead to open the second frame, 2-0, but it was easily hurdled by the Thais. It was the same story in the third as Thailand rolled to another straight sets win.  

The Philippines showed early resistance in the first set, trailing only by one, 4-5, but the Thais ignited a huge rally as they capitalized on the suspect service reception game of the Filipinas to build a 16-5 lead before cruising to the set win. 

Paat and Molina  scored seven and six points, respectively, to pace the Philippines while Baron and Soltones, who also chipped in 10 digs and nine receptions, had five markers each. Nabor tallied 13  excellent sets and got two points for the Nationals, who gave away 21 free points off errors.   

The Philippines will take on Indonesia, which also sports a 1-1 mark, to close the leg Sunday with Valdez, Morado, Madayag and Gonzaga back to help the Filipinas shoot for a silver medal finish.



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