FUKUOKA – Japan’s hopes of earning a Beijing Olympic berth took a severe blow Monday as the host fell 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 to Puerto Rico for its fourth loss at the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Cup.
Japan fell to 3-4 and sits seventh in the 12-nation standings, with four matches left to play.
Puerto Rico, which avenged its loss to Japan in last year’s World Championship, improved to 4-3, driven by a match-high 21 points from captain Hector Soto at Marine Messe Fukuoka.
“It was very important to play a good game tonight after losing yesterday,” Puerto Rico head coach Carlos Cardona said. “We lost out energy due to the defeat (3-2 against Argentina), so within 24 hours we had to recover our strength and our power.”
In other action, Russia extended its unbeaten record to 7-0 with a 25-19, 25-18, 25-19 victory over winless Egypt.
“We play Russia tomorrow and I expect it to be a difficult game,” Cardona said. “The most important thing will be the performance of our strikers.”
Brazil remained on the heels of Russia at 6-1 after a 25-19, 25-16, 25-21 win over Tunisia (1-6).
“To play against Brazil is very difficult,” Tunisia head coach Antonio Glacobbe said. “Four years ago we played against them in the World Cup and we were afraid. Today we enjoyed it.”
Also Bulgaria (5-2) swept Australia (3-4) 25-17, 25-19, 25-13.