Coming off a thrilling victory over Afghanistan, the Philippine men’s national volleyball team was swiftly brought back to reality by the world’s fifth-ranked team, Japan, with a score of 19-25, 14-25, 23-25 in the 19th Asian Games on Thursday at the Deqing Sports Centre Gymnasium in China.
The loss crushed the Filipinos’ hopes of advancing to the Round of 12, leaving them with a 1-2 win-loss record in Pool F at the end of the tournament.
On the other hand, the Japanese side completed the group phase with a flawless 3-0 record, securing their place in the final round alongside Indonesia, which had a dominant win over Afghanistan earlier in the day.
In the first set, the Philippines managed to stay close to Japan, trailing by only two points at 18-20, before faltering in the latter part. Akihiro Fukatsu, Keihan Takahashi, and Kento Asano’s five-to-one finishing kick gave Japan a 1-0 advantage.
Regrettably, the Filipinos couldn’t keep pace with the Japanese team in the second set, as Japan led by as much as 11 points at 23-12 following a Hiroto Nishiyama attack. Yudai Arai and Hiroto Nishiyama sealed the deal, bringing Japan to the brink of a clean sweep.
Steve Rotter, however, gave the Philippines one last chance to extend the game by scoring four points in a hot 7-2 start in the third set. Nevertheless, the team fell short once again as Japan secured a 25-23 win to complete the 3-0 sweep.