Pornchai and Kriangkrai were given the afternoon off as Thailand’s “other stars” gave their Indonesian opponents a sepaktakraw lesson in Sunday’s final.
- FINAL: THAILAND 3-0 INDONESIA
- THIRD PLACE: KOREA 3-1 JAPAN
No Pornchai? No problem. No Kriangkrai? No cry. Siriwat,Anuwat and Pattarapong got the job done in Sunday’s inaugural ISTAF World Series final – and how. 15-6, 15-6, 15-6 was a diabolical 666 score line but a true reflection of how devilishly good this Thai regu is. And the amazing part is that two big stars of the team kept their tracksuits on and watched as their three amigos strolled to victory, with all 45 points raucously celebrated by a capacity crowd.
Indonesia had battled their way to the final with hard-fought wins over Malaysia and Korea in the knock-out stages and have risen from sixth to third in the ISTAF world rankings on the back of their success at this tournament. But there was – and indeed is – simply no living with the Thais at the moment.
Siriwat took over tekong duties and alternated power and precision, picking his spot around the entire court on service. Pattarapong saved everything within his considerable reach and the pair of them set for Anuwat who was on sparkling form, spiking like an assassin and then setting off around the court with his now trademark aeroplane celebrations. He wears the no.1 jersey and reminded the crowd of that fact every time he pulled off a point-winning block, to go with his double-double of 10 saves (from 10 chances) and 11 spikes.
Indonesia battled gamely throughout but were never in the running. A change of tekong failed torevitalise them and though Rijal Siaful, Satyed Nur Adil and Syamsul Hadi gave it their all, they met the same fate as Thailand’s previous opponents.
Third place went to another team, which is rising up the world rankings, after the Korean men’s regu emulated their female counterparts by defeating neighbours Japan 15-10, 15-6, 12-15, 15-10. Neither team served well, but it was an exciting clash, which set the table for the women’s and men’s finals later in the day. Lee Myung Jung, the pint-sized Korean captain, recorded 17 saves to round off an impressive tournament, while Im An Soo killed 14 spikes to go with three blocks and seven saves.
Striker Takeshi Tereshima found his range in the third set as Japan briefly fought their way back into the match, but Korea it was who took the final spot on the podium. The likes of Malaysia and Myanmar – two of the traditional big guns of sepaktakraw – will have to raise their game if they are to see off the challenge of these two new nations from the Far East. Thailand however are head and shoulders above the rest, with neither the men’s nor women’s regus dropping a set here or at the ISTAF World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in July. Both look set for a long period of domination.