As expected, Japan against Thailand was a humdinger of a match — at least until Japan forced a 5th set — as the 4 sets took an average of 25 minutes per set to complete. But then from the 5th set onwards, it was all NEC Red Rockets who surprisingly dominated Bangkok Glass, 15-7.
One. Were the Thais just tired of playing volleyball, or were they overconfident? ‘Cause they looked lackadaisical in the final set, and by the time they realized their predicament, t’was just too late.
Two. Did the benching of their import Ashley Frazier prove to be the turning point? Well, we understand if Thailand’s coach wanted more familiarity when he replaced the American. Then again, if there’s one player and only one who should be replaced — we believe it should have been #10 Jutarat.
In this tournament really, Jutarat was Thailand’s weak link — second though was Ashley Frazier. Hey, these two either got their attacks blocked, reception ‘offline’ or served way off! The Thais could have used more of #3 Sutadta and #1 Maliwan instead.
Anyway, as in our previous article on the 2016 AVC, whoever wins this match would most likely go on to win the championship as their expected Finals opponent Ba’yi Shenzhen of China has shown much vulnerability. Yeah, even in their semifinal match against Kazakhstan whom they beat 3-1, it actually took an average of about 26 minutes per set to get things done. See?
And save for the second and third sets when each team took turns in thumping each other — the score was pretty close especially in set number 4 when China finally won, 25-23..
As for the Kazakhs, while they took a set against China; they actually never got one against Japan in their September 5 meeting when the NEC Red Rockets won 3-nil.. 25-16, 25-17, 25-19.
So just imagine the Finals tomorrow (yes, based on their Kazakhstan matches alone, Japan should be favored). It’s basically China’s height against Japan’s speed. While NEC beat Altay’s height, Ba’yi is more skilled. Thus it should be a pretty close match with NEC prevailing if they could show the same focus and intensity as they did against Bangkok Glass when they trailed 1 set to 2 — then showed great defense to win in great fashion!
As for Ba’yi.. It’s just all about ‘consistency’.