THE stinging five-set defeat to Vietnam has pushed the Philippines on the brink of another Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball heartbreak.
Still, the host team remains upbeat of its chances of making it to the top two despite the gargantuan task of beating the 2017 Kuala Lumpur gold medal match protagonists Thailand and Indonesia.
“We’re thinking positively naman sa game. Simula pa lang, we can’t drag ourselves down,” said superstar Alyssa Valdez after Tuesday night’s 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 8-15 loss to the Vietnamese.
“One thing we’ve learned today is walang imposible. Kung sinong makakalaban namin, kung sino magbibigay ng buong puso sa laban, iyon siguro yung mananalo,” she added.
Competition formats state that only the top two teams after the short preliminaries will battle for the gold medal.
The Filipinas simply cannot afford any missteps if they want to hurdle the Thais at 6 p.m. today and the Indonesians on Saturday.
“So going up against Thailand and in the future games, siguro ‘yun lang ‘yung imi-mindset namin — the attitude towards the game, the mental toughness talaga,” said Valdez, who led the Philippines with 22 points, including two service aces, and 13 receptions.
Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, who incidentally was Valdez’s teammate in Chinese Taipei club team Attack Line two years ago, was the thorn on the Filipinas’ side.
Known in her home country as “T4”, as the ace Vietnamese hitter scored all but one of her 27 points from spikes to go with 13 receptions and 13 digs.
Egged on by the huge crowd that braved Typhoon “Tisoy” at the Philsports Arena, the Philippines gave Vietnam everything to handle but lost steam in the deciding set. “Kinulang, kinapos talaga kami sa dulo. We had a good fight from the first set to the fourth set,” said Valdez. “But I guess experience will play a big role in the fifth set, and sa dami ng nilaro ng Vietnam for the longest time sa international competitions.”
The Filipinas need to unleash their A-game if they want to beat the Thais, who have won 11 SEA Games gold medals.
Thailand, behind Pimpichaya Kokram’s 15 points and setter Nootsara Tomkom’s 18 excellent sets, made quick work of Indonesia, 25-13, 25-15, 25-9, in last Tuesday’s opener.