Hong Kong will face hosts Zimbabwe in the Cup quarter-finals at the Spar International Sevens in Harare today after taking time to "shake off the cobwebs" on the opening day, which ended in a one win-one loss record.
"We were rusty, no doubt about that. The last time we played in a sevens tournament was last November and it showed," said Hong Kong coach Dai Rees.
"We lost our final pool game to Kenya probably because the speed of thought of our opponents was faster than ours."
Hong Kong defeated the Zambesi Warriors 26-12 in their opening game but then went down narrowly, 14-12, to Kenya in the second game.
Kenya had rested most of their top players who have competed all season on the HSBC Sevens World Series and were fielding largely a second-string side.
Meanwhile, leading coaches on the World Series insist they aren't taking Hong Kong's presence among the core teams at this month's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens lightly.
Kiwi mastermind Gordon Tietjens warned Hong Kong, who join the 15 core teams in the sixth leg of the series, "could be the surprise package" at the March 22-24 tournament.
"The level will be up but Hong Kong will go in with the attitude of, 'We've got nothing to lose but everything to prove'. They could be the surprise package and that is what is exciting about this game," Tietjens said.
Paul Treu, in Harare with a South African development squad, said: "If you look at Hong Kong from last year's tournament they are very competitive, especially at home. And being here in Zimbabwe proves how seriously they are preparing."
Hong Kong, the reigning Asian sevens champions, are drawn with Fiji, Canada and Spain.