2018 Asian Games: Philippines vs. Indonesia – Six important questions

Finally, the Philippine volleybelles in the 2018 Asian Games broke into the win column against Hong Kong. While the victory gets the team closer to the quarterfinals, the game against host nation Indonesia will still have major implications. Here are the most important questions revolving around this showdown.

Will the game be televised?

Just like you, I feel the frustration of not being able to watch the game on a better platform. But for two straight games, our heroes are those people who stream the matches on Facebook Live. The reception will get blurry at times due to fluctuating Internet or mobile data connection but that’s better than not being able to watch at all. We can’t fault the official broadcaster either for it’s the organizers who have designated the Bulungan Sports Hall as a venue with no live TV coverage and consequently, no official livestream.

However, the match between the Philippines and Indonesia at 7 pm, Philippine time will have a live broadcast for two reasons. First, it will be played at the GBK Tennis Indoor where TV coverage is allowed. Second, games of host nations get as much broadcast as possible. Therefore, expect at least a livestream from the official broadcaster from this game until the Philippines2018 Asian Games campaign in women’s volleyball is over.

How important is this game for the Philippines?

This game will determine the Philippines’ ranking in Pool A which will have huge significance as to the team they will be facing in the quarterfinals. As of writing, Indonesia has a 1-1 record with two matches left (Philippines, Thailand) while this is our team’s last match in the pool stage. A win against the host squad will improve the Philippines’ record to 2-2 which can be good for third place.

Should Indonesia lose tomorrow, they fall to 1-2 with the likelihood of going 1-3 because Thailand will be too much to handle for them. Meanwhile, the winless Hong Kong squad will have a tough hill to climb as they face the Thais and the Japanese. Given that those are two best teams in the pool, they could likely end up in the consolation playoff for

If the Philippines climb to third in Pool A, they will face the runner-up of Group B in the quarterfinals. As of now, that spot can be clinched by either South Korea or Kazakhstan. While they are both formidable opponents, that’s a better fate than who our team will face should we lose to Indonesia: none other than world top-ranked China. Thus, it would be better if the Philippines can defeat Indonesia in three or four sets to get three match points.

What should Team Philippines do to win?

Aside from not removing their foot on the gas pedal by the end of sets two and three, they have to maintain the game they played against Hong Kong. Scoring attacks should come from different players and zones while reception especially in zone six will be vital. The variety of attacks, whether quick or not, will keep Indonesia guessing. Likewise, our team would have to be wary about service errors especially because it can kill the momentum. Finally, blocking is not Indonesia’s specialty and our spikers must make them pay with powerful hits.

Who to keep an eye on for Indonesia?

That boils down to one person: opposite spiker Aprilia Santini Manganang. If our net defenders can contain her, the chances of winning increase. But that’s easier said than done given that Manganang is one of the hardest hitters in the 2018 Asian Games. Case in point: she had 28 total points against Hong Kong, 25 off spikes while two are kill blocks. She had a decent outing in their loss against Japan as well with 11 points, all off spikes.

Aside from Manganang, Indonesia’s scoring can also come from wing spiker Amalia Fajrina Nabila who had 11 points against Hong Kong. Other players that setter Tri Retno Mutiara Lutfi can target are Wilda Siti Nurfadhilah Sugandi and Nandita Ayu Salsabila.

Who should be in our first six?

The priority of the game plan is to stop Manganang. Therefore, this is the ideal first six:
• Open hitters – Alyssa Valdez and Cha Cruz – You cannot leave your best scorer in the bench to start the game. Valdez’ hits can sap some energy off Manganang as she plays defense. Meanwhile, Cruz will not rack up the points but her job is to dig Manganang’s spikes.
• Middle blockers/hitters – Jaja Santiago and Aby Maraño – Jaja’s height will be a challenge for Indonesia’s leading scorer while the team captain can divert defenses with her quick slides.
• Opposite spiker – Kim Kianna Dy – She has been a steady contributor throughout the three games and her timing on the net can produce stuff blocks.
• Setter – Kim Fajardo – The former DLSU Lady Spiker has just been the better setter over three games, especially versus Hong Kong.
• Libero – Denden LazaroDawn Macandili seems lost during their last game. Score that to not being in training camp. While we can’t fault her for missing that due to academic reasons, Lazaro deserves a starting role for being the steadier libero.

Which team will win?

This is a close call. Three years ago, Indonesia defeated the Philippines at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. Now, they will be playing in front of a largely partisan Indonesian crowd. The Filipino contingent will be in full force but the Pinay volleyballs cannot let home court advantage affect their game. Likewise, this is 2018 and most of the players in the current Philippine squad have gained significant experience in the international stage. That being said, I see our national team winning in four hotly-contested sets.

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