Know thy Asian Games 2018 Group A opponent: Indonesia

Friday, 10 Aug 2018
Lawrence Fernandez - Editor - @lancefernandez

Expect boos from the crowd when our Philippine women’s volleyball team face host nation Indonesia in the group stage of the Asian Games 2018. After all, we haven’t been particularly friendly with them during out last international match-up.

Southeast Asian Games 2015 – defeat and controversy

The Indonesians outclassed our SEA Games squad at Singapore’s OCBC Arena Hall 2 in straight sets, 25-22, 25-20, 25-14. But the game was not devoid of controversy as Philippine team officials protested Aprilia Santini Manganang’s gender even before the match started. Then Philippine team coach Roger Gorayeb was not convinced that the Indon was not female. Meanwhile, team manager Ricky Palou added that the protest is to ensure a level playing field for the Filipinos.

Eventually, the organizing committee denied the protest and maintained that Manganang is a woman based on previous gender verifications. Indonesia’s team manager Hanny Sidik Surkatty reiterated that the IOC and the FIVB has cleared her to play since 2012. The decision did not bode well with the pro-Philippines crowd that they ended up ridiculing Manganang every time she serves or spikes. Worst, a group of Filipino fans shouted “lesbian” after one of her kills.

Who and what to look out for from the Indonesian women’s volleyball team

Manganang must have channeled all the anger she felt to lead her squad to victory in that encounter. She topped the scoring tally for the Indonesians with 13 points, 12 of which coming from kills. Bad news is that she will definitely suit up for Indonesia after leading Garuda Volleyball Club to a fifth-place finish in the 2018 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan.

Majority of Indonesia’s attack goes to Manganang without the benefit of a combination play. She remains a threat from the back line for her attack is equally devastating. Therefore, the Philippine front row defense of Jaja Santiago and Mika Reyes must counter her booming spikes with a sturdy wall of blockers. However, she is not the only one who makes Indonesia a tough match-up. They must also pay attention to Amalia Fajrina Nabila who supported Manganang with 10 points as well as Maya Kurnia Indri Sari who contributed 11.

Prediction

The Philippines and Indonesia will meet on August 23 in a game that will have major classification implications. Expect the home crowd to rattle our national team in hopes of getting a better record after four games. For the Philippines to win, they have to be wary of the misdirection plays from the Indonesian setter as well as their reception of service. Spike accuracy will also be a factor for there were a lot of balls that hit the net during their last encounter.

But the emotional charge from the pro-Indonesian audience might rattle the Philippine players especially when the opponents are racking up points. Thus, they must keep their nerves in check if they are to win the match. Our squad was able to keep the game close in the first two sets only to falter in the third.

I have faith in our national team especially with Dawn Macandili who can clean up any defensive lapses the other five may have. The lack of preparation though might take a tall on our odds to win. However, the current Philippine team has been exposed to several international competitions already so they know what’s coming their way. Still, I see the breaks of the game going Indonesia’s way as they clinch a victory in five sets.