Philippine Squash Academy president Bob Bachmann (left, back row) with coaches Manny Boy Yam and Jun Paganpan, 5th SEA Cup championship director Edgar Balleber and players Robert Garcia, David Pelino, MacMac Begornia, Christopher Buraga, Myca Aribado and Aysah Dalida.
Philippine squashers strike gold
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The national squash team showed why it’s called Kayod Pilipinas in surviving four marathon five-setters on the way to posting an overall record of 19 wins and 8 losses, claiming the gold in men’s singles and the bronze in women’s singles and the mixed team event at the six-nation 5th Southeast Asian Cup in the Kerry Sports courts, Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort, over five days recently.

It was the first gold medal ever for the Philippine squad in the annual competition, which is a prelude to the SEA Games here later this year. MacMac Begornia, 26, was unscathed throughout the tournament, beating Brunei’s Haji Saiful Rizal, 11-3, 11-1, 11-2, countryman Robert Garcia, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, Malaysia’s Mohamed Bin Azhar, 7-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6 and Singapore’s Benedict Chan, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9 for the men’s singles crown then defeating Singapore’s Chua Man Chiu, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4, Thailand’s Prapangkorn Potiruk, 11-1, 11-5, 11-3 and Indonesia’s Rahma Diyanto, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 in the mixed team event.

Aysah Dalida, 26, took the bronze in the women’s singles, ousting Thailand’s Tuddaw Thamronglarp, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 and injured compatriot Myca Aribado on a walkover before bowing to eventual gold medalist Malaysia’s Noor Ainaa Amani Binti Ampandi, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5. Dalida picked up another win in the mixed team event, trouncing Thailand’s Pranghatai Phonprattana, 12-10, 11-5, 11-4.

In the mixed team event, the Philippines blanked Thailand, 5-0 and blasted Indonesia, 4-1 then settled for the bronze after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to Singapore. Begornia and Garcia won their matches against Singapore but Aribado, making a gallant comeback from a sprained ankle, couldn’t pull through in losing to Au Yeong Wai Yhann, 11-3, 5-11, 13-11, 11-6 and Dalida was thrashed by Sneha Sivakumar, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 to leave the decider to David Pelino who dropped an 8-11, 11-2, 13-11, 11-2 thriller to Chan. The mixed team event was broken down into three men’s singles and two women’s singles matches.

Garcia, 33, lost only to Begornia and registered five wins. He beat Thailand’s Natthakit Jivasuwani, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and Singapore’s Timothy Leong, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 in the men’s singles to finish fifth overall and repeated over Leong 12-14, 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 and Jivasuwani, 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 and crushed Indonesia’s Agung Wilant, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 in the mixed team event.

Aribado, 25, sprained her ankle at practice a few days before the tournament started and defaulted her two singles matches but recovered to beat Thailand’s Anantana Prasentratanakul, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 and Indonesia’s Catur Yuliana, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 before falling to Yhann in the mixed team event. Pelino, 25, beat Thailand’s Louis Boonsinsukh, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 and Indonesia’s Satria Bagus Laksana, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 then lost to Chan in the mixed team event. 

Former Philippine squash champion Manny Boy Yam, now living in New Zealand, flew in to serve as Kayod Pilipinas’ head coach. Filipino pro Edgar Balleber was championship director and other Filipinos Rodan Banquilay, Ed Aguilando, Carlito Abanil, Leonides Alamida and Arnel Begornia were tournament markers. International technical officials were Robert Arrffan and Mok Wing Hoe of Singapore, Mohamad Octavia Kamal of Indonesia, Kellvinta Breshant Selvaraj and Leslie Morgan Ponnampalam of Malaysia.

Philippine Squash Academy (PSA) president Bob Bachmann added 12-year-old Christopher Buraga to the Kayod lineup as a reserve for experience. Buraga recently topped an U15 junior competition in Singapore and is the PSA’s latest discovery. 

Bachmann said the SEA Cup was conducted according to Asian Games standards and lauded the team’s performance. “Overall, I’m very pleased with the team’s showing, considering both our girls were still managing their injuries,” said Bachmann.

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