Tokyo, November 26, 2005 -- Brazil took a giant stride toward a second World Grand Champions Cup by beating Italy in a five-set epic at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The reigning world and Olympic champions won the first two sets to put them on course for a comfortable victory, but world No. 2 Italy fought back to take the next two and force the tiebreak.
In an electric atmosphere, Brazil prevailed 15-13 to improve their win-loss record to 4-0, with one game to play, against African champions Egypt, on Sunday.
Although Brazil have dropped six sets in four matches, they have accomplished the most important thing and that's to win three each time.
Head coach Bernardo Rezende praised the determination and motivation of his players after this latest success.
"It was a good and tough match. I think it was a great match again between Brazil and Italy," he said.
The South American champions, who won this title in 1997, saved six set points before winning the first set 32-30 on their third attempt. They took the second 25-20, lost the third 23-25 and the fourth 22-25, but regrouped and came home in the decider with a couple of sparkling late winners from Andre Nascimento.
The left-handed wing spiker led all scorers with 24 points, including 19 kills, and captain Giba was not far behind with 20 points. Gustavo Endres, who has been a rock at the net for Brazil all tournament, contributed 14.
Alberto Cisolla scored 22 points for the Azzurri, while lefty Michal Lasko (15) and Cristian Savani (12) pulled their team back into it after being given a chance off the bench.
Italy's head coach, Gianpaolo Montali, said it was important for his team to play well after the previous day's collapse against the United States.
"We played four sets very well but it was not enough to win this match," he said. "With my players, every time they make one mistake it feels like two against Brazil."
Earlier in the day, USA produced a business-like performance to beat Egypt 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-15) in the opening match.
Clayton Stanley, who is in his fifth year playing professionally in Greece, led the American charge with 22 points, comprised of 16 spikes, three blocks and three service winners.
He said it had been very important to follow up the previous day's crushing 3-0 victory over Italy with a solid display against the African champions.
"We played an excellent game yesterday (Friday), and when you get a win like that you do not want to let it go to your head," said Stanley. "We made a decision to come out here and take care of business."
In the all-Asia evening affair, Japan won a thriller 15-8 in the fifth on their eighth match point.
They missed six match points in a 35-minute fourth set, which China won 37-35 on their seventh set point.
Japan improved to 2-2, while China dropped to 0-4.
Tang Miao bagged a game-high 29 points for China, and Japan captain Masaji Ogino led his team with 23.