Bangkok, Thailand, August 11, 2010 – After pulling off a second successive victory over world No. 1 Brazil is as many tournaments on Sunday, Italian coach Massimo Barbolini is hoping to obtain some much-needed consistency as his side prepares for the second weekend of the 2010 World Grand Prix Preliminary Round in Bangkok, Thailand, which starts on Friday.
Last year’s FIVB World Grand Champions’ Cup winners Italy are joined by Asia champions Thailand, former two-time World Grand Prix winners and world No. 4 USA and fast-improving Puerto Rico in Bangkok where their Pool D round-robin encounters will take place at the Keelawes 1 Gymnasium inside the Thai-Japan Youth Welfare Centre from August 13 to 15.
Italy, who currently sit sixth in the overall World Grand Prix rankings with two wins and one defeat, are aiming for a hat trick of wins this weekend to put them in contention for a Final Round spot however Barbolini says his side needs to back up after their stunning win over defending champions Brazil on the first weekend of Preliminary Round action.
“I hope my players will do their best here,” Barbolini said at the official press conference on Wednesday. “We beat Brazil, the world’s strongest team, in our first leg in Sao Carlos. However, I think we always play different styles in different weeks. It’s hard to say whether Brazil played well or not in the first week. They sometimes play good and sometimes bad. We just want to make our team the best prepared.”
The top five teams plus hosts China will qualify for the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round, which will held in Ningbo, China from August 25 and 29. China currently sit top of the standings with three wins from three, while USA and Puerto Rico and have one win from three matches and Thailand are still looking for their first victory.
The coaches of all four participating teams competing in Pool D joined the official press conference at the Radisson Hotel.
Mr Hugh McCutcheon – Coach of USA.
“I would like to thank the organizers for the great job they have done so far in preparing the FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Pool D here. We will utilize more of a balanced roster of experienced veterans and young players based on international experience. It will be very exciting to take on three strong teams here. We will do our best.”
Mr Massimo Barbolini – Coach of Italy.
“This is the second weekend of clashes we will play. We will try our best to improve on our performances. To us, the FIVB World Grand Prix is very important. It’s a tournament we can improve on ahead of a tougher challenge in the World Championship. I hope my players will do their best here. We beat Brazil, the world’s strongest team, in our first leg in Sao Carlos. However, I think we always play different styles in different weeks. It’s hard to say whether Brazil played well or not in the first week. They sometimes play good and sometimes bad. We just want to make our team the best prepared.”
Mr Juan M. Cartagen – Manager of Puerto Rico
“My team is a mixture between young guns and experienced players as we are preparing for the World Championship. It will be a tough weekend for us here. Aside from Italy and USA, we have to take on Thailand in our opening match. If they maintain their level, I think we will face a strong challenge against the host side here. As far as I see, Thai players are very fast. To match them is not that easy. However, we will do our best to play a tough match against them on Friday.”
Mr Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai – Coach of Thailand
“We played badly on the first weekend in Chengdu, China. Home matches will also be tough for us. We have to keep eyes on weak points we came up with last week and at the same time improve on our technique and physical strength. If possible, we would like to beat every team although it’s not easy. To enhance our chance, we have to reduce our unforced mistakes. We try to improve on our strategy. As there are many strong teams in the tournament, we could not use the same format at all times. We gathered for intensive training for the FIVB World Grand Prix only one and a half months ago. We should reach our peak at the World Championship and the Asian Games in November. Our attack has already lived up to my expectation and now we still have more to improve on middle-court attacking. We have to boost our confidence and play more consistently. Against Puerto Rico in our first match on Friday, I’m still upbeat that we can avenge them for the loss in the first week in Chengdu, China. We know how the Puerto Ricans play and I think we have to rely more on speed, powerful serves to foil their defensive attempts. Also, we will attack more from the back court. We will try not to let our fans down with our disappointing form.”
Match schedule (all matches Bangkok time)
Friday, August 13, 2010
3.10pm: Italy vs USA
5.40pm: Thailand vs Puerto Rico
Saturday, August 14, 2010
3.10pm: Italy vs Puerto Rico
5.40pm: Thailand vs USA
Sunday, August 15, 2010
3.10pm: USA vs Puerto Rico
5.40pm: Italy vs Thailand