Thailand and the
Netherlands arrive in Manila
Philippines , June 28, 2005 – Southeast Asia Volleyball
power Thailand and the Netherlands are scheduled to
arrive in the Philippines on Tuesday, underlining their
readiness for the Manila leg of the 2005 FIVB World
Grand Prix Women's Volleyball Championship which runs
from July 1-3 at the Philsports Arena.
Thailand, no. 17 in the FIVB world rankings, has won the
women's Volleyball title in the SEA Games every year
since 1995 and will be defending their crown for a
record sixth time in this year's SEAG in Manila. The
Netherlands, meanwhile, are ranked no. 14 and are widely
considered as one of the European Volleyball powers.
The Thais and the Dutch will arrive in Manila from
Ningbo, China, where they competed with the United
States and hosts China, recording a 0-3 and 2-1 return
The two other participants in the three-day event
organized by the Philippine Amateur Volleyball
Association (PAVA) - three-time Olympic champions Cuba
and world no. 4 and last year's runner’s up Italy - are
set to arrive on Wednesday.
"This is a good opportunity for our women's Volleyball
team to see the Thai team up close once again,” FIVB
Development Officer and PAVA officer Ramon "Tats" Suzara
said. “We may not beat them in the SEA Games, but at
least our team can learn something from them and from
the rest of the field,".
In its bid to improve on its tenth-place finish last
year, Thailand has gone for a tall line-up this year
with Patcharee Sangmuang and Pluemjit Thinkaow, both
5-foot-11 tall, and Nurak Nokputta, Narumon Khan-An,
Wanna Burkaew and Nootsara Tomkom leading the way.
Thailand coach Sutichai Chanbunchee said the inclusion
of taller players in his team made his side more
competitive. The Thais placed fourth behind China, Japan
and Korea in the 2003 Asian Championships and was a gold
medalist in the 2000 SEA Senior Women's Volleyball.
The Dutch, on the other hand, boast a solid defence,
which was the key to their qualification in this year’s
World Grand Prix. Former national player Avital Selinger,
who won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics,
has been tapped to handle the Dutch team which has been
training since last year.
The Cubans, owners of four World Championship titles,
will return to the scene of their triumph back in 1993,
where they won their second and last World Grand Prix
title at the Philsports Arena.
Cuba faces a strong challenge from Italy, who, despite
missing key players Manuela Leggeri (best blocker) and
spiker Elisa Togut, boast plenty of promising talent
including Jenny Barazza, Nadia Centoni, Simona Gioli and
Eleonora Lo Bianco.
Under coach Marco Bonitta, the Italians won the 2002
World Championships and finished fifth in the Athens
Cash prizes at stake in the tournament are US$35,000 for
the champion; US$25,000 for the runner-up; US$20,000
(third) and US$15,000 (fourth).
Other countries competing in this year's World Grand
Prix are defending champion Brazil, Japan, Korea,
Poland, Germany, Dominican Republic and China.
The Manila leg will be held simultaneously with the
Seoul and Macau legs. First week eliminations were held
from June 24-26 in the cities of Tokyo (Japan), Reggio
Calabria (Italy) and Ningbo (China). The hosts for the
third week (July 8-10) are Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and
The finals will return to Japan (Sendai City) where the
top six teams, including the host country, will play a
round robin format from July 13-18 to decide the 2005
World Grand Prix champion.