Iran v China in Asian final; Colombia, Canada stay unbeaten
Colombia’s Ronald Andres Jimenez Zamora celebrates after one of his numerous points against Venezuela
Lausanne, Switzerland, January 11, 2020 – Iran and hosts China advanced to the deciding final of Asia’s continental Olympic qualification tournament in Jiangmen. On Sunday, they will lock horns for the single available Asian ticket to Tokyo 2020. Colombia and hosts Chile posted wins on the second competition day of the South American qualifier in Santiago. In Vancouver, where the NORCECA event is taking place, hosts Canada and Puerto Rico came out victorious on Saturday.
Hosts Canada were down two sets against Cuba on Saturday at the round-robin NORCECA qualifier in Vancouver, but then put their act together to master a complete turnaround, please the home crowd with a 3-2 (22-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-21, 15-9) victory and improve their win-loss record to 2-0. Stephen Maar and Ryan Sclater managed five blocks each towards am impressive team total of 19 stuffs in the match. With 21 and 20 points to their names, respectively, they led the scorers’ table, followed by Cuba’s Marlon Yant Herrera with 14.
Earlier on Saturday, Puerto Rico took their first win of the competition. The Caribbean squad stayed in contention with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-23) shutout of Mexico. The Mexicans have yet to win a match and for them Tokyo 2020 is now out of reach. Maurice Torres was the best scorer of the match with 18 points towards the victory.
Cuba and Mexico will open the programme on the last day of the event in Vancouver. To qualify for the Olympics, the Cubans need to win and then rely on Puerto Rico defeating Canada in the closing match.
The two winners on the first competition day of the round-robin South American Olympic qualifier in Santiago, Colombia and Venezuela, went face to face on the second. In the five-set drama that unfolded, Venezuela came back from a set down twice, but folded in the tie-breaker as Colombia emerged with a 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, 15-10) victory to remain on top of the current standings as the only undefeated team in the tournament. Ronald Andres Jimenez Zamora was by far the best scorer of the match. He hammered out an impressive 35 points, including four of Colombia’s 14 stuff blocks in the match. Willner Enrique Rivas Quijada scored 22 times for Venezuela.
In Saturday’s second match, after an epic first set that lasted 70 rallies, hosts Chile registered their first win of the tournament, 3-1 (36-34, 24-26, 25-21, 25-21) over Peru, thus staying in contention for the Olympic ticket and leaving the winless opponent without a shot at Tokyo. Vicente Parraguirre scored a match high of 26 points for Chile, while Peru’s Eduardo Romay Dammert finished with 24.
On the last competition day on Sunday, Venezuela will try to stay within reach of the first place with a win over Peru, before Chile and Colombia go head to head in the deciding closing match.
Five sets were necessary to determine the winner of the first semifinal at the Asian Olympic qualifier in Jiangmen. In a rollercoaster match, Iran emerged with a 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 22-25, 15-13) win to claim the first spot in Sunday’s crucial final. The block was Iran’s key weapon in this battle as it chipped in with 17 stuffs towards the victory. Ali Shafiei (6) and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi (5) combined were responsible for 11 of those as they became the team’s best scorers with a total of 17 and 16 points to their names, respectively. Korea’s Kwang-In Jeon scored a match high of 25 points, followed by teammate Chul-Woo Park with 22.
In the second semifinal, hosts China made sure they stayed in contention for the Olympic visa with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 25-20) victory over Qatar. Chuan Jiang once again spearheaded the Chinese offence and hammered out as many as 23 spiking points at an impressive 61% success rate towards the win, becoming the top scorer of the match. Renan Ribeiro was Qatar’s highest scorer on 13 points.
In the last match of the African qualifier in Cairo that had no bearing on the first place and the ticket to Tokyo, secured by Tunisia on Friday, hosts Egypt cruised to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-18) win over Cameroon to finish the event on a high note and in the second place. Ahmed Shafik was the only player who reached the double digits, scoring 11 points for the home team.