MANILA, Philippines - A confident Globalport Pilipinas and San Miguel Corp. Philippines set out for a big start as they slug it out with their respective rivals in the opener of the Philippine Polo Open 2014 tomorrow at the Globalport Field in Calatagan, Batangas.
In what could be the biggest polo event to be held in the country in more than 50 years, the Philippine Open drew the rich and powerful in the region, including Prince Jefri Bolkiah and Prince Bahar of Brunei and scions of a wealthy Thai businessman, all raring to showcase their prowess in what has long been considered as the sport of kings.
The country is also well represented with businessman-sportsman Mikee Romero leading Globalport Pilipinas and Iñigo Zobel anchoring the title bid of San Miguel Philippines against four foreign rivals, including the fancied ADEC of Team USA.
Zobel’s San Miguel takes the honor of showing their vaunted offense when they take on Brunei’s Ahmibah at 2:30 p.m. while Romero’s Globalport collides with ADEC at 3:45 p.m. in a match many expected to be close.
“The opening day is very important, so expect a lot of fireworks,” said Romero. “While we have the so-called homecourt advantage, we have to give all if we want to win. It’s not easy going up against veteran teams.”
Out to provide Globalport offensive muscle are Gaston Bequerie, Rodrigo Bauzada and Thai Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha, son of of Vichai Srivaddhanprabha – acknowledged as the godfather of the sport and one of the richest in the region.
Zobel, on the other hand, will have Tommy Bitong, San Hunt and Juan Jaretche as teammates in the event sponsored by Manila North Harbour Port. Inc., AirAsia, Viber and San Miguel Corp.
Aside from the centerpiece Philippine Open, a side event dubbed Air Asia Patron’s Cup will be held starting Wednesday with Caterham F1 Green, Air Asia Red, Caterham Green Team and Viber Team vying for the title.
Other members of Royal Brunei team are Prince Qawi Bolkiah and Ale Agote while Hollywood producer Jun Juban and veteran Jim Donovan lead ADEC. Matias Orlando and Miguel Dure are the other members of ADEC.
Thailand’s King Power and China’s Tang Polo won’t see action until Wednesday. Bannered by Shi Lai Liu, Tang Polo debuts against Globalport while the Apichet “Tal” Srivaddhanaprabha-led King Power collides with San Miguel.
The six participating teams will be divided into two groups with each group playing a single round. The No. 1 team from both groups will advance in the one-game face-off on March 9.
“Every game counts so we have to give our 100 percent each game,” said Romero.