Crowd-favorite Team Japan defeats Slovenia
TOKYO Olympics MVP Earvin N’gapeth came back from a one-game respite energized as he carried France to a 25-16, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21 blitz of Germany in yesterday’s Week 2 Volleyball Nations League action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
N’gapeth, who was rested in a 25-22, 27-25, 25-16 sinking of Japan Saturday, showed renewed vigor and dropped an 18-point performance to keep the Roosters comfortably perched on top with 21 points, or three points ahead of the Poles, on seven wins in eight outings.
It also completed a four-game sweep by the reigning Olympic champions on their Philippine sojourn.
“For me, it’s my first time that I discovered the Philippines. It’s nice to play here, it’s really great to play here,” said Stephen Boyer, who had an all-around effort with 16 points and six digs.
After a dominant first two sets, the French lost concentration in the third that allowed the Germans to regroup, launch their own spiking offensive and steal the third set to stay alive.
It turned out to be Germany’s last, as N’gapeth and Boyer took charge in delivering the killer blows.
Germany fell to No. 11 with seven points.
In the other game, crowd darling Japan bounced back from its defeat to France with a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19 spanking of Slovenia to leap back to third with 18 points.
Yuki Ishikawa and Tatsunori Otsuka were at the forefront of the Ryuji Nippon’s attack with 21 and 13 hits, respectively, while Yuji Nishida, back after a one-game absence, contributed 11 points.
The Slovenians faltered to ninth with nine points.
Fans were specifically delighted by the return of the high-leaping, power-spiking Mr. Nishida, who was one of the most popular players who suited up in Week 2 here as far as Filipino fans were concerned.
And while Mr. Nishida played third fiddle on this one, the bigger than life figure did enough to get him more endeared to the hosts.
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 this ultra-competitive 16-country event. — Joey Villar