Pinays face daunting task against South Korea

Mark Escarlote, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Aug 13 2017 01:34 PM

Team Philippines. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports.

BINAN CITY, Laguna –-- The Philippine national team braces for a tough battle ahead when it takes on powerhouse South Korea in the quarterfinals classification round of the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena on Sunday here.

Closing the first round with a 1-1 win-loss record in Pool A, the home team will take on Pool C’s no. 1 seed Koreans, who are at no. 10 in the FIVB world rankings, to open its Pool E campaign.

Game time is at 5:30 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23 and ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166. 

Meanwhile, the Japan-Chinese-Taipei tussle at 12:30 p.m. and the Thailand-China encounter at 3:00 p.m. will also air live. 

Coming off a straight-set loss to a much taller Kazakhstan side, 23-25, 20-25, 19-25, in the pool stage Friday, the Filipinas are the clear underdogs against the Koreans led by superstar Kim Yeon Koung.

Despite an improbable chance of pulling off an upset against the Koreans, head coach Francis Vicente hopes that his team will give a good performance in front of the home crowd. 

“Wala na tayong magagawa doon,” said PHI head coach Francis Vicente, whose wards are ranked no. 79 in the FIVB rankings. “Di natin pwede piliin kung sino makakalaban natin. Basta handa ‘yung team kung sino man ‘yung makakalaban.”

Philippines, Pool A top seed Kazakhstan, South Korea and Vietnam are bracketed in Pool E where their placing in the knockout quarterfinals will be determined. The teams will only face the squads coming from the other first round pool.

Pool F is composed of Pool B’s top two teams Japan and China and Pool D’s Thailand and Chinese-Taipei.

Vicente will pin its hopes on top hitters Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago who averaged 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the opening round. 

Even with a seemingly impossible task ahead, Valdez remains defiant.

“We’re here to fight, we’re here to learn, we’re here to win,” said Valdez.

The Philippines started the tournament with an emphatic win over Hong Kong, 25-21, 25-16, 25-17, last Wednesday before hitting a brick wall in Kazakhstan Friday. 

The Filipinas will take on 29th Southeast Asian Games opponent Vietnam on Monday while the quarterfinal round begins Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on the ABS-CBN Sports website.