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AVC U23 Day 6 Roundup: The Home Stretch

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We’re now getting to the juicy part of the tournament where the elite teams remain, to slug it out and battle for podium finishes. Not to mention, the classification matches promise to be slobber-knockers with evenly matched teams set to battle for fifth through eighth place.

Here is a recap through all the matches from Day 6 of the AVC U23 Women’s Volleyball tournament and a preview the future matches for each team.

Match 1: Macau sweeps Maldives 25-20, 25-11, 25-19.

 
AVCU23 CHNvsMAC Day 3-9583
Motivational hyperboles from Coach Roger aside, these two teams were the least experienced and most vertically challenged participants in the tournament. Macau just struggled less with gravity in this match to down Maldives, which ranked them at 11th place.

But there are a few bright spots for Maldives in this match:
– They finally scored enough total points (50) to win a set.
– They had a player tally more than 10 points (Areesha, 13).
– Someone blocked a hit for them. This was huge for Maldives since most of their of players couldn’t even reach the tape of the net.

They may not be world-beaters in this sport, but at least they live in a tropical paradise.

Match 2: Japan zooms past India 25-17, 25-17, 25-14.

AVCU23 JPNvsIND Day 6-0734

Japan had the easiest route to the Top 4 out of all its companions. Only having one competitive match, a four-setter against Taipei, their other matches against severely less-experienced foes was a walk in the park. As a direct result, Japan had the privilege to be practical with their rotation to field any of their players knowing that they’ll still have an edge against the lower ranked teams.

Japan has started a different lineup in each set they’ve played for the past three games, and each of those lineups produced solid numbers. They’ve had six different players score in double digits for them throughout the tournament, and none of their players have played an entire match without spending time on the bench. Needless to say, Japan’s balanced lineup makes them a headache to prepare for. However, their tournament-long cruise ends with India as Thailand now stands in their way of making the Gold Medal match.

India, meanwhile, have surprised a lot of their foes with just their uncanny athleticism. They have powerful wing hitters and skilled blockers that have shown great lateral quickness when patrolling the net. Their only problem has been limiting their errors and controlling loaded serves as seen in this match against Japan. They surrendered 27 errors and had a horrendous 26% excellent reception percentage. Still, the Indians are a huge threat to take fifth place in this tournament should they manage to tone their errors down in the final two days of the tournament.

Match 3: Korea nips Chinese Taipei 16-25, 25-17, 23-25, 25-14, 15-10.

AVCU23 TPEvsKOR Day 6-0787
If there’s a team that embodies the word feisty, it’s Taipei. They’re floor defense alone has nearly caused two top teams to tap out and they seem to have a penchant for keeping rallies alive. They won two tough sets against Korea. But, just as they did in their losses, their opponents merely powered through their scheme.

The Koreans derive most of their firepower from their outside hitters. Open hitter, Lee Soyoung has been undeniably the tournament’s best player, leading Korea in scoring as well as fortifying the back row whenever she rotates there. Soyoung dropped another impressive stat line of 29 points, 10 digs, and nine excellent receptions in their win against Taipei, literally carrying her team over dry spells throughout the match. Korea’s outstanding cast of outside hitters also includes: open hitters Ha Hyejin and Yerim Go, and opposite spiker, An Hyeri. The Koreans shuffle through these four, riding on who has the hot hand each match.

Those four almost overpowered the tough Chinese blocking just a few days ago, but China was able to adjust and take the match in five sets. Korea needs that same level of offensive explosion to overcome China’s Great Wall of blockers. Containing China’s best offensive player, Liu Yanhan, should be an adventure for Korea’s spotty blocking; so look for Yanhan to replicate her 37 point outing from their initial match-up.

Taipei, meanwhile, faces the Philippines later in a rematch of Tuesday’s much talked about match. Interestingly enough, Taipei’s hitters were off their game against the Philippines as they struggled to produce points. Their defense and serving, though, were still on-point to force the Philippines into multiple errors and miscues during receptions.

Taipei will be eager to prove that they should not have lost a set to the Philippines, a caveat the locals should be able to take full advantage of, if they keep their cool and limit their mistakes. The Philippines showed that they could dole out enough points from attacks to take down some of the best competition in the tournament. Don’t be surprised if either of these teams finishes fifth overall in the tournament.

Match 5: THA obliterates IRI 27-29, 25-19, 25-8, 25-13.

AVCU23 THAvsIRI Day 6-1062
The past few matches have been underwhelming for the World-ranked Thailand team. They were supposed to be blowing weaker teams out of the water and stand point-for-point with the elite teams.

After the first set against Iran, it seemed Thailand was set for another meltdown. Fortunately for the Thais, something snapped in during the last three sets and they just outplayed Iran in every way they can. The Thais’ signature free-wheeling, fast paced style resurfaced, and the Iranians just didn’t have the tools to keep up. Their brilliant play just sucked the will to fight out of the Iranians.

Judging through the old eye-test, one won’t be overwhelmed with the Thais’ stature, but Thailand employs incredible athletes at every position. All their players seem to go from 0 to 60 in two seconds and can jump a full foot over blockers.

At their peak, they just run and jump opponents out of the building. Against Japan later today, it should be interesting to see how each team deals with the opponent’s strengths. The Japanese bring their endemic discipline in life to how they play volleyball. Japan’s defensive patterns are rock solid and they have funky ways of producing points off set plays due to their high-level service reception.

Thailand is going to need to pound away at Japan’s defense in anyway they can. Their blockers also have to be proactive in snuffing out Japan’s offensive game plan to succeed.

To conclude: No matter how the matches will turn out today, we will be in for quite a pair of medal games tomorrow.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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AU

Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates

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The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17 dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits with rookie Necole Ebuen powering in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16 while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

The Lady Chiefs look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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JRU

Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace of Final Four

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Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set, the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined crom those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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