2018 Asian Games: Philippines vs. Hong Kong – Six important questions

After disappointing losses to Thailand and Japan, the Philippine women’s volleyball team is in must-win mode when they face Hong Kong in the 2018 Asian Games. A win today will increase the odds of our national team reaching the quarterfinals. But while our squad have dominated the same nation in the 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Championship which was held in our country, they cannot take this opponent lightly given the stakes involved in this contest.

Here are the six most intriguing questions about the Philippines-Hong Kong match:

Did we really dominate them during the last encounter?

The national team did have an impressive straight-sets victory against them to open their 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Championship campaign. But take note that Hong Kong almost took the first set but ended up getting only 21 points. They lost steam in the succeeding sets by posting 16 and 17 points, respectively.

What’s positive is that the practically the same Philippine team that played in that tournament will be suiting up in the Asian Games. However, the main scorers of Hong Kong will also play plus we will be playing them in a neutral court. Likewise, Hong Kong showed results in the third year of their five-year development plan when they took the first set against host nation Indonesia. That being said, the Philippine spikers cannot rest on the fact that they’ve beaten Hong Kong before.

Who to watch out for from Team Hong Kong?

Their best attacker is opposite spiker Sau Mei Yeung who has also played at the club level in Thailand. She led Hong Kong in scoring against Indonesia with 17 points, 14 of which coming from spikes and one off a service ace. Aside from her, 20-year-old Wing Lam Chim must also be marked for she tallied 11 points in that game. Hoi Lun Helen Ip is also a threat as proven by her nine points against the Indonesians.

Aside from those players, Hong Kong also showed decent defense with libero Eu Eu Chan leading the way with five out of the team’s 12 excellent digs. They also had 32 excellent receptions, nine of which courtesy of Ka Yee Tsui and seven from Wing Lam Pang.

Will the Philippines-Hong Kong game be televised live?

The game will be held at 1:30 pm Philippine time at the Bulungan Sport Hall in Jakarta which is the same venue where the Philippines played Japan. Recalling the tweet by one of the commentators of the official broadcaster, there is no television coverage on that venue. The sad reality caused an outcry among passionate volleyball fans who wanted to watch the game as it happens. If the trend stays, then the Philippines-Hong Kong game might not have a live telecast and livestream. For that, we might have to rely on people who will stream the game on Facebook Live or tune in to Volleyverse for game updates.

Who can be the difference-maker for the Philippines?

I’m thinking of not just one but two people and they are sisters. Placing Jaja Santiago at middle and Dindin Santiago-Manabat at opposite will form a terrorizing wall of blockers that Hong Kong may struggle against. Plus, the power of their spikes can cause trouble for their receivers too. It also eases off a little bit of defensive pressure from first open spiker Alyssa Valdez who can then concentrate on offense. The chances of winning this game for the Philippines will improve once the sister’s tandem clicks.

Who should be in the starting rotation?

We can match Hong Kong’s floor defense and have an edge in attacking options. Thus, it’s best to field a first six that can give both. These are who coach Shaq Delos Santos should include in the starting line-up:

• Outside hitters: Alyssa Valdez and Cha Cruz – Valdez’ power will give the Hong Kong players a hard time fielding her spikes. Meanwhile, Cruz is also an able attacker but an even better receiver. Her play will address the reception problems that dogged the squad in their first two assignments.

• Middle blockers/hitters: Jaja Santiago and Aby Maraño – I expect Jaja to have a field day on both aspects of the game. Her height itself can intimidate the Hong Kong hitters. Meanwhile, Maraño’s quickness especially on sliding attacks will give variety to the Philippine offense.

• Opposite spiker: Dindin Santiago-Manabat – I would have placed Kim Kianna Dy here for she has earned her stripes after two games. But defense will be the key to break Hong Kong’s spirits. Santiago-Manabat might be a step slow but her height and wing span makes up for it especially when guarding the net.

• Setter: Kim Fajardo – She’s been the more fluid setter in the two games thus far. I see no changes when they face Hong Kong

• Libero: Dawn Macandili – Simply put, she’s the better option we have at libero in terms of reaction time and agility.

Live stream

There is no official live stream of the game due the venue that it is being played at but there are a few fans in the crowd kindly streaming the event to Facebook: