JAPAN's Ayumi Kusano and Takemi Nishibori put up a dominant performance over Spain's Paula Soria and Maria Belen Carro, 21-14, 21-18, to claim the gold medal in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open yesterday at the Sands SM By The Bay.
After the Spaniards saved three match points, Nishibori delivered the championship kill from a sublime Kusano and completed a perfect 6-0 campaign in the tournament organized by the Beach Volleyball Republic.
"So happy. Perfect," Kusano said.
Japan overcame Spain's height advantage with its speed and superb sand court coverage to claim the $1,000 top prize.
"We used our brains," said Kusano, who also won the Spike for Peace invitational championship at the Philsports Arena three years ago
Paraguay's Erika Bobadilla and Michelle Amarilla meanwhile got a big bounce back after missing the semis in Langkawi last week, winning the bronze at the expense of the other Japanese team made up of Tanaka Shinako and Fujii Sakurako, 21-17, 21-16.
It was Paraguay's first-ever medal in the FIVB World Tour, and Bobadilla and Amarilla will head back to South America with a lot of great Manila memories.
"Well, we finished fifth (in Langkawi) so this was a lot better because we made it to the semifinals. Playing the last game I think is one of the best things for every player. You are so prepared mentally coming to a tournament. Playing in three days, four days or five days," said Bobadilla.
The top-ranked duo, Bobadilla and Amarilla simply enjoyed playing in front of an appreciative Filipino audience and were simply awed by the high-level of international beach volleyball attendance.
"We loved Manila. We were so easily adjusted here. Having people being supportive for us is really, really great for us," Bobadilla added.
Earlier, Kusano and Nishibori defeated Shinako and Sakurako in an all-Japan women's semifinal, 21-13, 21-16, while Soria and Carro fashioned out a 21-16, 21-15 victory over Bobadilla and Amarilla in the other pairing.
In the men’s division, Russia's Peter Bakhnar and high-serving Taras Myskiv arranged a gold medal showdown with Germany's Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers, posting contrasting wins in the semifinals.
Bakhnar and Myskiv, who came all away from last Thursday's qualifiers, outlasted brothers Alejandro and Javier Huerta of Spain, 21-18, 17-21, 20-18, while Karpa and Sievers swept Switzerland's Michiel Zandbergen and Gabriel Kisling, 21-17, 21-16.
The Philippines' debut in the one-star tournament saw Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio making it to the quarterfinals, and reigning BVR national champions Karen Quilario and Lot Catubag in the round. Other Filipina bets were DM Demontaño and Jackie Estoquia, and Charo Soriano and Bea Tan.
The event is promoted by E-Plus Global Sdn Bhd and organized by Beach Volleyball Republic Inc.