Brunei's Nur Alimin Sungoh
(2nd from left) blocking a shot
from a Laos player during their
SEA Games' doubles events in
The national sepak takraw team were so close to making it over the fence yesterday.
Their campaign came to an end after they lost 3-2 (15-10, 5-15, 5-15, 15-12, 11-15) to Laos in Group A of the doubles events of the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games yesterday at the Jakabaring Promotion Centre in Palembang, Indonesia.
It was do-or-die for both teams as each had managed one win and one loss before the meeting.
Brunei starting with Nur Alimin Sungoh and Ismail Ang once again got the backing from the crowd and got off to a strong start.
They were confident and were serving the ball well.
Laos were in disarray and had their attacks blocked on each possession.
Brunei would open up an 11-4 lead before Laos picked up their game. However, the Sultanate remained composed to close out the first set 15-10.
Laos were in full throttle in the second set, scoring the first six points. Everything was going right for them as they extended their cushion to 10-1.
Brunei made a substitution to put in Md Shukri Jaineh, who is not in full form after suffering from an injury after landing on the jury's table the day before.
It was not enough Laos were in control and close out the game, winning the set 15-5 to make it 1-1.
It was the same affair in the third set and things were not looking up for the Bruneians. They were struggling to handle the attacks from Laos killer Chakkaphan Kounlasouth, who gave his team the lead and then victory, winning the set 15-5.
Brunei knew they had to buckle up and did just that. The crowd once again got behind them and they were beginning to do better blocking their opponents' attacks.
They managed to attack with precision and hold on for a 15-12 fourth set win forcing a rubber set.
Laos remained calm and the game remained close. Both teams went with serve and things would go down to the wire.
Brunei were hanging by a thread with Laos leading 13-11 and they served to the net before Laos finished them off in the next possession.
National sepak takraw coach Ittiphol Chomchaissak was proud of his athletes despite the loss. "The players did their best, but it was difficult as they haven't fully recovered from the food poisoning the day before," said Ittiphol during an interview with The Brunei Times after the loss.
"Laos showed that they were the better team. They had a very good feeder who was moving all over the court," he added.
The coach also highlighted how the Laos team had learned from Thailand having made short border trips to train with their neighbours on a weekly basis.
"They (Laos) have a lot of techniques that they picked up from training with Thailand. But it was still good for us," said the Thai.
"We will have to continue to improve further. The team have matured a lot considering that they have shown good improvement especially with their movement on court. Their mentality has also gotten better, but we will have to continue strengthening it further," added the 44-year-old coach.
Ittiphol felt that it was also the luck of the draw as they should have had a better chance of making it into the semi-finals had they been drawn into Group B with Myanmar, Singapore and the Philippines.
"I thought we did well, but we were placed in the strong group. I guarantee that we would have made it into the next round if we were in the other group," said Ittiphol.
"We have had sparring matches against Singapore and the Philippines and won. Myanmar would only be the tough team, but it would still be a 50-50 game," he concluded.
That sums up the campaign for the sports being competed in Palembang by the Sultanate as the national sepak takraw team will also not be returning home with any medals from South Sumatera.
Courtesy from Brunei Times