Tommy Tillikainen “Participation in the Asian Club Championship, growth of future drivers is the biggest goal”

The purpose of participating in the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship is clear for Korean Air coach Tommy Tillikainen (36), who opened the ‘dynasty’ for the second time in history with three consecutive victories in the V-League메이저놀이터. It is the growth of players who will be the driving force of the future. It would be icing on the cake if they achieved Asian dominance following the V-League, but the first thing is to provide young players with a lot of experience and a platform for growth.

On the 13th, one day before the 14th, the opening day of the tournament, Tillikainen revealed the blueprint for the tournament. He said, “For this tournament, four of our team’s key members, Han, Kim Gyu-min, Lincoln and Jeong Seong-min, are not registered on the roster. This will be a big challenge for our team,” he said. “The reason for coming to this competition is clear. I hope that it will be a stepping stone for many experiences, opportunities, and growth for young players. Of course, when I get on the court, I want to win. But more importantly to me, I hope to see the future of our team through this tournament.” “It was rather good that other teams hired famous players for a short period of time for this tournament. It will be a bigger challenge for our players, and I think the process of overcoming it will help our team.” 

The schedule for this 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship is very tight. Starting on the 14th, they will have to play the group stage for three days in a row, take a day off, and play the ranking game again. Tillikainen also has this schedule in mind. “The schedule for this tournament is very tight. All 14 registered players must be evenly appointed. I hope they all do their part.”

The vacancy of one player will be divided between veteran Kwang-Woo Yoo and second-year rookie Jin-Hyeok Jeong. Kwang-woo Yoo, who led the Samsung Fire Dynasty in the past, has already proven his performance, but he cannot play all games because of his chronic ankle disease. It is calculated that Jung Jin-hyeok must enter the court and show a performance comparable to that of Yoo Kwang-woo in order for Korean Air to make it to the quarterfinals or higher. Coach Tillikainen said, “Jeong Jin-hyeok is a setter who has been practicing hard behind Player Han and Kwang-woo Yoo. This tournament will be a good opportunity for Jeong Jin-hyeok. He is looking forward to seeing how much he can show the training he has been doing so far in practice,” he said. “The position of setter is a really difficult position. He expressed his wish, saying, “I want him to show his skills well in the given opportunity.” Regarding the distribution of playing time between Yoo Kwang-woo and Jung Jin-hyuk, he said, “I wrote the script. However, it will have to change depending on the physical condition of the players and the game situation.”

In the V-League, matches are played with the official ball of stars, but since this is an international competition, the match will be played with the official ball of Mikasa, the official ball of the international competition. This is expected to have a significant impact on performance. Director Tillikainen said, “It is not scientifically understood, but from my experience and feeling, the Mikasa ball has little advantage when hitting a spike serve. Poison to spike servers, benefit to receivers. On the other hand, the floater serve has more shake, which is helpful for servers and difficult for receivers to catch. We will make it possible to play well with the characteristics of the Mikasa official ball,” he explained.

Director Tillikainen took on the leadership role on the Asian continent six years ago when he was in charge of Japan’s Kosei Toyota (now Wolfdogs Nagoya). His debut match for Toyota was the Asian Club Championship six years ago. Tillikainen said, “At that time, we played 8 games in 10 days and went to the final. He said, “I have memories of losing to the Iranian team in the final.”

Tillikainen, who has been coaching for three years in the Japanese league, is likely to meet the Suntory Sunbirds, played by Dmitri Mushalski, who is considered the world’s best middle blocker, in the quarterfinals or higher. He said, “I watched a lot of videos of Suntory playing during the season,” he said. He also has a tactic about how to deal with him.” Then, he added, “Of course, he is a player that is difficult to block even though he knows it.”

At the end, director Tillikainen left a word of advice to the fans. “I ask for the support of the fans. I came this far with the players. There will be support from Korean residents, but I ask that you send a lot of support to our players while watching the internet broadcast in Korea. I will do my best”

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