By Joey Villar
FOR decades, Thailand has been Philippine volleyball’s barometer for success.
So in the next six days, Filipino fans will get a chance to see the mighty Southeast Asian (SEA) champions up close and personal as the Thais wage war in Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) starting with a duel with the Canadians at 3 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 15-time SEA Games gold medalist have actually given the country a sample size of its immense talent after its masterful 25-13, 25-10, 25-16 destruction of the host team in an exhibition game at the Filoil Flying V Arena on Saturday.
Now, expect the country to probe deeper into the product of Thailand’s ascension as a world power as the latter plays Poland on Thursday, current VNL leader Japan on Friday, and World No. 1 United States on Sunday.
And the Thais are not in the VNL for no reasons.
After Week 1 in Ankara, Turkey, the World No. 14 has stolen some of the thunder from the big guns by zooming to seventh in an ultra powerful 16-country field with eight points to show on three wins in four outings.
Its triumphs came at the expense of Bulgaria, 25-20, 25-22, 25-20, on May 31; World No. 5 Serbia, 25-23, 25-27, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12, on June 2; and World No. 3 and Asian Games titlist China, 25-23, 13-25, 14-25, 25-23, 15-11, on June 5.
Their only defeat thus far came at the hands of the Belgians, 25-22, 18-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13 on June 4.
Meanwhile, pace-setter Japan, unbeaten in four outings with 11 points, battles Poland, currently at No. 8 with eight points on three wins in four games, in the other offering at 7 p.m.
PLDT is a presenting partner while The STAR, Quezon City headed by Mayor Joy Belmonte, Maynilad, Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee are among those backing the event.