Foton Pilipinas to face unbeaten Japan sans import Stalzer
Mark Escarlote on Sep 05, 2016 05:11 PM
Foton Pilipinas will miss the services of American import Lindsay Stalzer when the Tornadoes face Japan on Tuesday.
BINAN CITY -- Foton Pilipinas remains a depleted team when the Tornadoes march into battle Tuesday against powerhouse team NEC Red Rockets-Japan.
American reinforcement Lindsay Stalzer is ruled out of the match against the Japanese squad in Foton Pilipinas’ opening game in the quarterfinals classification round of the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena here.
Game time is at 1:30 p.m.
The 2015 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Most Valuable Player is suffering from back spasm since Saturday when the Tornadoes swept Kwai Tsing-Hong Kong. She sat out of Foton Pipinas’ five-set defeat at the hands of Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank-Vietnam Sunday.
The Tornadoes finished the preliminary round at no. 2 spot behind Vietnam and will face Pool C’s top seed Japan first before taking on the towering Altay VC-Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Japan topped Pool C with a 25-16, 25-17, 25-19, win over Kazakhstan on Monday. The Japanese are yet to lose a set in the tournament.
“Stalzer on the court is not a priority against Japan,” Foton Pilipinas coach Fabio Menta said of his reinforcement, who saw action in just the opening set of their match against Hong Kong with seven points.
But the Italian coach said that Stalzer, who aggravated her back problem by lifting weights Saturday night, is expected to get back on the court against the Kazakhs.
“But certainly (she’ll be back) next day (against Kazakhstan),” said Menta. “She won’t be on top of her game anyway and we cannot waste her energy in an almost impossible match (against Japan).
Against Japan, Foton Pilipinas will rely on American import Ariel Usher, 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Cherry Rondina and Abigail Marano.
NEC Red Rockets coach Akinori Yamada said he is familiar with some of the Tornadoes, especially 6-foot-5 middle blocker Jaja Santiago and American import Ariel Usher.
He, however, remains confident that they can pull off a victory that is similar to what they did with Kazakhstan, a team bannered by a handful of six-footers.
“I know some of the players like Santiago and Usher are very good. Their offense is very good. It’s going to be difficult but I know where going to win,” said Tamada through an interpreter.
“Well, you know, we maybe small players, but after this win over Kazakhstan, we are now more confident. It doesn’t depend on the height,” he added. “We are confident.”
Japan will bank on prolific scorer Sarina Koga and team captain Akari Oumi, who finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively, against Kazakhstan.
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