Foton Pilipinas gained a neat lesson in international volleyball when it suffered a devastating 13-25, 7-25, 15-25 setback to NEC Red Rockets of Japan in the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship Tuesday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan City.
The Japanese marched into war zone with blazing guns to crush the Tornadoes in just 66 minutes of action in this prestigious continental battle organized by the Philippine Superliga, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the city government of Binan through Congresswoman Len Alonte.
Earlier, Jakarta Elektrik PLN of Indonesia flattened Kwai Tsing of Hongkong in the classification battle for 9th to 12 places, 25-12, 25-15, 25-12, while Altay VC of Kazakhstan kicked off its second-round campaign on a high note with a 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 win over Thongtin Lienvietpost Bank of Vietnam.
Ba’yi Shenzheng of China was also impressive as it dominated Sarmayeh Bank of Iran, 25-18, 25-19, 25-14, in the third game of this tourney which is being bankrolled by SMM Sport, Nike, Senoh, Asics, Mikasa, Foton, BMW, Rexona, PLDT and Price Waterhouse Cooper with Crimson Hotel as official residence and TV5 and SMMTV of Thailand as broadcast partners.
Skipper Akari Oumi spearheaded the assault, but it was a total team effort as the Japanese jumped the gun early to dictate the tempo and completely destroy the morale of the Tornadoes, who were missing the services of 2015 PSL Grand Prix Most Valuable Player Lindsay Stalzer.
Oumi delivered 11 kills, one block and one serve to finish with 13 points while Sarina Koga and Mizuki Yanagita chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively for Japan, which emerged with a bridesmaid finish when Hisamitsu Springs campaigned in the 2015 edition in Phu Ly, Vietnam.
Flaunting crisp offensive assaults, solid defense and all-around brilliance, the Japanese played like a well-oiled machine, especially in the second set where they raced to a 9-0 start and never looked back. A service error by Koga finally put the Tornadoes in the scoring column, 1-9, and failed to score on an attack until EJ Laure connected a beautiful backrow spike for a 5-19 count.
The Japanese crushed the Filipinos in almost all skills departments, especially in attacks, 28-14, aces, 6-, and errors, 13-17. Foton Pilipinas, however, had more blocks, 6-4.
“I tweeted a while ago that today we are going to school and Japan is the teacher who will give us a good lesson,” said Foton Pilipinas coach Fabio Menta of Italy. “I think we still did pretty well. I actually thought that we would not score past 10 points, but today, the girls had some flashes of brilliance and gamely challenged Japan at some point in the match.”
Jovelyn Gonzaga, the most seasoned player in Foton Pilipinas’ roster, added that the Japanese were simply too strong, too talented and too disciplined to overcome.
Foton Pilipinas still has one more game in pool play against the taller Kazakhs, a game which Menta branded as the “game of our lives” since a victory would allow them to avoid Ba’yi Shenzheng of China or reigning champion Bangkok Glass of Thailand in the quarterfinals starting Friday.
Unfortunately, skipper Jaja Santiago remains doubtful as the 1:30 pm schedule of the Wednesday match clashes with her game for National University.
Aside from that Stalzer is expected to remain in sickbay as she has yet to get the green light from her doctor pending the result of her magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Nobody from Foton Pilipinas reached double-digit in scoring with import Ariel Usher leading the way with seven points while Aby Marano emerging with four hits
On Monday, NEC Red Rockets of Japan crushed the taller, heftier Altay VC of Kazakhstan, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19.
With all cylinders on fire, the Japanese turned the battle into a lopsided affair and clobbered the Kazakhs in just 74 minutes.
Also in that day, Bangkok Glass of Thailand dominated Sarmayeh Bank of Iran, 25-17, 25-12, 25-15, to sweep Pool B.
Team captain Pleumjit Thinkaow finished with 13 points for defending champion Bangkok Glass, which needed only one hour and 19 minutes to take the win.
Bangkok Glass has a 2-0 win-loss record entering the classification match to determine the placing for the quarterfinals.
Iran evened its record 1-1 and will also see action in the classification match for the quarterfinals placing.
Also, Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank of Vietnam swept Pool A after it defeated Kwai Tsing of Hong Kong, 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 25-18.
Team captain Do Thi Minh made 19 points for Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank while Tran Ton Nu Ly Linh added 15.