VNL men’s volleyball kicks off today at the Big Dome

TEAM Japan playing against Argentina. — VOLLEYBALL WORLD

WORLD-CLASS men’s volleyball action comes to the Philippines as eight countries headed by Tokyo Olympics gold medalist France wage war in Volleyball Nations League’s (VNL) Week 2 starting on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Slovenia and the Netherlands open up hostilities as the two tackle each other at 3 p.m., while Argentina tangles with Japan in the main offering at 7 p.m.

The event comes a day after the best women players in the planet descended on Philippine soil with the overachieving Japanese and the almighty Americans sweeping all their four games in Week 2 at the Big Dome to stay at first and second, respectively in women’s play.

The Japanese zoomed to second with 10 points after winning three of their four outings in Week 1 in Brasília, Brazil early this month.

And a win here would catapult the group from the Land of the Rising Sun to the solo lead ahead of the United States, which leapfrogged to the top after sweeping all its four games with 11 points in Week 1 also in Brasília but will only resume play on Thursday versus Serbia in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Japan has been pretty impressive in Week 1 where it downed the Netherlands, 22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-17; China, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-18; and 2018 Asian Games gold medalist Iran, 25-20, 25-14, 25-19.

It’s only defeat came at the hands of the Americans in a heartbreaking 17-25, 25-15, 25-21, 26-28, 15-9 setback.

Other nations displaying their wares here are Italy, China and Germany.

PLDT is a presenting partner while The STAR, Quezon City headed by Mayor Joy Belmonte, Maynilad, Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee are among those backing this ultra-competitive 16-country event. — Joey Villar

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