PH water polo team determined to end SEA Games slump
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine men’s water polo team is confident that it will finally get over the hump in the Southeast Asian Games later this year.
The team has had several heartbreaks throughout the years but competing in front of the hometown crowd would provide the edge it needs to capture that elusive gold.
“This is our year,” said head coach Dale Evangelista during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.
“With the skills, we are fair game with the best in the region, especially Singapore and Malaysia, but the support of our countrymen will spell the difference. We hope they come to support us,” he said.
The last time the SEA Games were held in the country, the Philippine water polo team was 45 seconds away from winning the gold only to squander a 6-5 edge and fall to Singapore, 7-6.
“We are motivated by that loss,” said Evangelista, who came to the forum with team captain Tani Gomez Jr., co-captain Roy Canete and team member Mark Jerwin Valdez.
The Philippine water polo team has had plenty of success in the regional meet with five silvers and four bronze medals since 1991, before the program went on a rebuilding stage in 2012.
It missed the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar then finished fifth in 2015 in Singapore and fourth in 2017 in Malaysia.
In the 2015 SEA Games, the Philippines lost to Singapore, 23-2, and but country showed massive improvement after narrowly losing to the Singaporeans, 7-5, in the next edition of the meet.
The Filipinos kept it close anew against the Singaporeans in the recent FINA Challengers’ Cup in Singapore before dropping an 11-7 decision to bow out of the medal race.
“We want to win the SEA Games gold this year,” said Evangelista.
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