Japan attacked well in a close match against Finland in front of a crowded stadium in Osaka
Osaka, Japan, June 17, 2016 - As the host team for the 2016 Men’s FIVB World League round in Osaka, Japan got off to the start they wanted, posting a strong 3-0 win against Finland (26-24, 25-20, 25-23). Finland, despite the loss, was pleased with their play overall, as all three sets were close. Saturday’s matches in Osaka will see Finland take on Korea, and Japan host Cuba in the late game.
Japan captain Kunihiro Shimizu: "We had good service, tactical and effective, especially by my teammate Yanagida, and we could put them in tough situations. There were some difficult moments that came about, but we managed to overcome them by staying focused. I think overall we had a good game."
Japan player Akihiro Yamauchi: "Our service was effective and so they couldn’t get their offense going, and we could put them in a B or C pass situation. It was easy for us to defend as a result, and we had good transition opportunities and that led to more points. I think this was the key to our win today."
Japan player Masahiro Yanagida: "For this opening game, I was a little nervous early on, but found my rhythm later. And eventually I found my service. But later we gave up some runs, because of my struggles in reception. Tomorrow against Cuba I’m expecting strong service, so I’ll need to be more focused and concentrated."
Japan coach Masashi Nambu: "To start our ‘new era’ I started Kentaro Takahashi up front, and his spike percentage was good, but he struggled in blocking. So I eventually went to Shimizu. Overall our game was good, and our service was effective. We hit a few aces, but when our service struggled we ended up with mistakes in our side-out. But this is the first game of this competition, and it’s expected to have some nerves. We will try to take the good parts here and move into tomorrow, continuing to do our best."
Finland co-captain Eemi Tervaportti: "So the game was ok for us, except for some parts our rotations gave up too many points in a row, and it made the game tough for us. I don’t think we played bad. Japan’s opposite played a really good game. I think we just gave up a little too many points in a row at times."
Finland’s co-captain Olli-Pekka Ojansivu: "I’m not happy because we lost but there were many good things. If we don’t count that one rotation, we were good. But we lost because of that one rotation."
Finland coach Tuomas Sammelvuo: "I want to congratulate the Japan team. We knew it would be this kind of game, with long rallies and a lot of defense on their part. I completely agree with our captains that we played ok. Our opposite had a really great game on attack, but of course we need to help him on the attack in other positions. We came really close to win two sets. Those, like our captain said, those are really about managing the moments. You need to have the side-out fast when you have a good server is there, control your emotions, and stay focused. […] I’m happy that we came back to fight to win the sets. I think this is a great learning process also. Technically speaking we have to get better in blocking our opponents’ high ball situations. We when put them in trouble, we have to play better blocking and defensively in those situations."
One last thing: I know our team very well. And we will be completely ready to fight and get better tomorrow against Korea. It will be the same kind of game, a lot of defense on their part. It’s our turn to improve, win first a set, and then the game. It’s out goal tomorrow, to improve day by day, and I’m very, very confident about this team tomorrow.