PH Volcanoes intensify SEA Games preps with Tokyo 2020 qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Volcanoes are hitting two birds with one stone as they are set to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Regional Qualifying Tournament for the Olympics ahead of the upcoming Southeast Asian Games.
The timing of the qualifying tournaments in Guangzhou, China from Nov. 9 to 10 couldn’t have been better.
“This tournament comes around every four years and it’s perfect as it leads towards our preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in December,” said and Philippine Rugby’s Jake Letts.
The Volcanoes are doubling down in the tournament with Southeast Asian teams Singapore and Thailand also participating in the tiff.
Playing against its regional neighbors also gives the Philippines to gauge their abilities and the Volcanoes want nothing more than to put their resolve to the test after a successful Trophy Tour Series Gold Medal in August.
The win propelled the country to the Top 8 in Asia and that’s a ranking country hasn’t been in since 2014.
“After a second place finish in the Trohy Series in 2018, the progression to a Gold Medal in 2019 was the next move in the right direction,” said Letts. “Now we have an opportunity to show the top teams in Asia how far we have come in five years.”
Volcanoes head coach Fetala’a Taua said the Tokyo qualifiers gives the team immense experience heading into the SEA Games where they’ll play against the top countries in the continent.
“Our main aim for the event is to gain more international exposure for our development and to compete with the best teams in Asia,” said Taua who has veteran Aiumi Ono in his team.
“After the huge success of Rugby World Cup in Asia there will be faster progress in the development of the sport. Our team will gain more popularity and interest which will lead to building much stronger asian teams in the future and in the Philippines” said Ono.
The Volcanoes are in Pool B with Kazakhstan, Thailand, and Singapore while Pool A has China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Korea.
The champion in the qualifying tournament will get an outright slot in Tokyo 2020 while the runner-up will progress to the next round of Olympic Qualifications early next year.
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