Pinays fight for pride

With no win under their belts, Philippine squads — Rebisco and Choco Mucho — collide to salvage some measure of pride in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship Wednesday at the Terminal 21 Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

Game time is at 1:30 p.m. with both Rebisco and Choco Mucho looking for a win that would bail them out of a winless, luckless participation in this prestigious tourney that stakes a ticket to the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship in Turkey in December.

The winner in the Rebisco-Choco Mucho classification duel will book a battle for fifth place against Zhetysu of Kazakhstan while the loser will settle for the last spot and will fly home without a single victory to show in this seven-team field.

On the other hand, Nakhon Ratchasima QminC of Thailand will clash with fellow Thai bet, Supreme Chonburi, while Saipa Tehran of Iran will battle Altay VC of Kazakhstan in the semifinals with the survivors advancing to the sudden-death final round.

After a relatively short training camp that was held under the cloud of coronavirus pandemic, the young, inexperienced Filipino spikers marched to battle like wide-eyed rookies. They were turned into whipping girls by the bets teams from Thailand, Kazakhstan and Iran, wrapping up their classification round campaign with just one set won out of a combined 16 sets.

Rebisco suffered three losses to Altay VC, Supreme Chonburi and Saipa Tehran in the preliminaries in lopsided fashions to book a duel with powerhouse Nakhon Ratchasima QminC of Thailand in the quarterfinals.

With stars like Chatchu-on Moksri, Kuttika Kaewpin and Chatsuda Nilapa displaying superb attacking, solid serves and airtight defense, the Thais crushed the Filipinas, pulling off a 25-11, 25-19, 25-18 victory to advance to the semifinals.

Choco Mucho, on the other hand, was also unfortunate, bowing to Nakhon Ratchasima QminC and Zhetysu in the preliminaries to forge a quarterfinal battle with Supreme Chonburi.

Again, the Thais made their presence felt as Malika Kanthiong, Wipawee Srithong and skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow got the job done to cruise to an easy 25-13, 25-22, 25-21 victory.

Filipino-American Kalei Mau and Mylene Paat were the lone bright spots, delivering 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Choco Mucho that displayed some flashes of brilliance in the crucial stretch of the second and third sets before bowing to a stronger, more superior Thai side.

Mau has been lighting up the scoreboard for Choco Mucho, averaging 13 hits per game while Paat has 9.67 kills in three games.

“We really tried to push ourselves to win the match and avoid facing Rebisco, but then, we fell really short,” said Paat, the Asian Games veteran who obviously groped for form when the match was on the line due to their lack of training and exposure in the international arena.

Choco Mucho averaged 16.67 errors in three games while Rebisco found itself tallying 22 errors per match in four games, a testament to their lack of familiarity, chemistry and relatively short preparation with one of their players in Kat Tolentino even begging off at the last minute.

Rebisco coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito said they will go all out and give their best regardless of who are at the opposite side of the net.

Souza de Brito, a gold medalist for the Brazilian men’s volleyball team in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, had been drawing flaks for experimenting with his rotation and sitting out some key players in the crucial stretch.

Against Nakhon Ratchasima QminC, he benched skipper Majoy Baron while giving very limited minutes to veterans Dindin Manabat and Rhea Dimaculangan, resulting to an embarrassing straight-set loss.

The Brazilian, however, said he will keep on gambling on his young guns of Ivy Lacsina, Faith Nisperos, Kamille Cal, Jen Nierva and Mhicaela Belen to give them experience for major battles ahead.

“This is really important… inside the match, you are really going for improvement,” Souza de Brito said.

“For sure, we will be preparing for the next match and we will do our best always.”

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