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Al Arabi stun Paykan to set up Asian Men’s Club Championship showdown with unbeaten Taichung Bank

Taipei, Chinese Taipei, August 20, 2015 – Invincible Taichung Bank delighted home fans with a scintillating straight-set win over Kazakhstan’s Pavlodar in the semi-finals to come a step closer to winning their first-ever Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship on Friday.

Hosts Taichung Bank, the only team which have yet lost a match to their respective rivals in this top-notch competition, performed superbly to power past Kazakhstan’s Pavlodar VC in comfortable straight sets 25-19 25-18 25-21 to next go up against Al Arabi Sport Club in the final clash. The Qatari side on Thursday pulled off a stunning straight-set 25-23 25-21 25-15 victory over powerhouses Paykan from Iran in the other semi-final encounter.

The Taichung Bank’s victory allowed Chinese Taipei their first time in history to make it to the final showdown of the annual competition. Since the tournament’s inception in 1999, Chinese Taipei have never captured the Asian Men’s Club Championship crown before. Their best performance in this championship was in 2003 in Tehran, Iran, where the Taiwan Power team finished third place.

It’s now-or-never to win a ticket heading to the final in this championship. Thus, Taichung Bank and Pavlodar prepared well for the hall of fame ahead of them. The match started with a brief letdown of home audience when the host side failed to perform their usual excellence with a wide margin 0-5 frustration at the first set.

Nevertheless, shortly after the first time-out for Taichung Bank, the game turned to a complete opposite direction. The flawless teamwork and flexibility of the hosts exhausted their opponents severely. Pavlodar tried to adapt their height advantage against Taichung Bank; however, the hosts’ fast-paced passing the ball, collaborated blocking and effective digging and defense did the trick to deceive the oppositions successfully. It was the extraordinary ability controlling the pace of the whole process of passing the ball which empowered Taichung Bank to win the first two sets 25-19, 25-18.

Pavlodar gradually pulled their game together in the third set. Their brave fightback bore fruits when they caught up with Taichung Bank at 19-19. Still, the host side had enough left in their tank, allowing the visitors two more points to wrap up the set 25-21, the 3-1 match and a final berth.

Liu Hung-Min led Taichung Bank with 17 points including 16 points from devastating spikes. Wang Ming-Chun assisted with 10 kills. Martin Sopko topscored with 12 points for Pavlodar.

“We prepared well for this match against Pavlodar, watching videos and individual players’ information before the match. Moreover, we tried to apply different strategies toward different opposite players in response which turned out to be a satisfied result for our team and our supporters,” said Taichung Bank’s head coach Chen Ke-Chou after the match.

In a clash of the Titans between the 2012 champions Al Arabi Sport Club from Qatar and seven-time champions Paykan, whose seven key players competed for the second-placed Iran national team at the recent Asian Senior Men’s Championship on home soil, the nervous tension between both teams was undeniable in the first set. However, Al Arabi defied against all odds to win the hotly-contested set 25-23.

Their confidence went sky-high after they won the opening set and Al Arabi still performed every part of the game well. The Qataris apparently took control in the second and third sets upon their powerful spikes and the constant mistakes by Paykan. Al Arabi fought hard to capture the second set 25-21, but had an easy task in the third set, which they won 25-15 for an eventual 3-0 win.

Camejo Durruthy tallied 25 points for Qatar’s Al Arabi including 23 kills from 37 attempts, while Nasr Esfahani Alireza led Paykan with 11 points.

The convincing straight-set victory has carried Al Arabi to the final showdown, the fifth time for any team from Qatar in the annual continental competition. Out of their final appearances for five times in the championship, Al Arabi landed the Asian Men’s Club title in 2012. Qatar’s Al -Rayyan team made it to the finals in 2013 and 2014, but were beaten by teams from Iran on both occasions. In 2010, Al Arabi also represented Qatar in the championship, cruised their ways to the final but went down to Paykan in the thrilling climax.

In the 5th-8th playoffs, Korea Armed Forces struggled hard to beat South Gas Club from Iraq in pulsating four sets 25-23 21-25 27-25 25-22. Jeong Yeongho scored 17 points for Korea Armed Forces, while Cala Gerardo emerged as the top scorer for South Gas Club after scoring 24 points for the Iraq side.

The other encounter saw China’s BAIC Motor outclass Migrasiya from Turkmenistan in exciting straight sets 25-19 25-23 25-19.

Meanwhile, the respective playoffs saw Nakhonratchasima from Thailand finish ninth position after brushing off Japan’s Panasonic, the team they had already beaten 3-1 in their 9th-16th playoffs earlier, in hard-fought four sets 25-23 25-19 22-25 25-23.

Trang An Ninh Binh from Vietnam claimed the 11th place following their convincing straight-set 25-20 25-18 25-21 win over Cignal of the Philippines. Oman’s Sohar powered past Australia’s Victorian Volleyball Academy in daunting four sets 27-25 25-19 22-25 25-17 to finish 13th place, with NDS from Afghanistan in 15th position after pulling off a sensational 25-20 25-23 25-14 victory over Sporting Club from Kuwait.

THURSDAY’S RESULTS

AT UNIVERSITY OF TAIPEI HALL

SEMI-FINALS

Al Arabi Sport Club (Qatar) b Paykan (Iran) 3-0 (25-23 25-21 25-15)

Taichung Bank Club (Chinese Taipei) b Pavlodar VC (Kazakhstan) 3-0 (25-19 25-18 25-21)

PLAYOFFS

5th-8th: Korea Armed Forces (Korea) b South Gas Club (Iraq) 3-1 (25-23 21-25 27-25 25-22) and BAIC Motor (China) b Migrasiya (Turkmenistan) 3-0 (25-19 25-23 25-19)

15th-16th: NDS (Afghanistan) b Qadsia Sporting Club (Kuwait) 3-0 (25-20 25-23 25-14)

13th-14th: Sohar (Oman) b Victorian Volleyball Academy (Australia) 3-1 (27-25 25-19 22-25 25-17)

11th-12th: Trang An Ninh Binh (Vietnam) b Cignal (Philippines) 3-0 (25-20 25-18 25-21)

9th-10th: Nakhonratchasima (Thailand) b Panasonic (Japan) 25-23 25-19 22-25 25-23)

MATCH SCHEDULE (All local times)

AT UNIVERSITY OF TAIPEI HALL

PLAYOFFS

11am: 7th-8th: South Gas Club (Iraq) v Migrasiya (Turkmenistan)

1pm: 5th-6th: Korea Armed Forces (Korea) v BAIC Motor (China)

3pm: Third-place playoff: Paykan (Iran) v Pavlodar VC (Kazakhstan)

5pm: Championship match: Taichung Bank (Chinese Taipei) v Al Arabi (Qatar)

7pm: Awarding and Closing Ceremonies

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