Late meltdown sends Philippine water polo squad to 3rd straight loss

Waylon Galvez - Philstar.com
Late meltdown sends Philippine water polo squad to 3rd straight loss
Aljon Salonga tries to attack the defense of Thailand in the inaugural 2022 Singapore Water Polo Inter-Nation Cup at the OCBC Aquatic Center.
Lim Sin Thai

SINGAPORE – The defensive wall of the national water polo team collapsed in the fourth quarter as it suffered a 6-15 setback to Thailand in the inaugural Singapore Water Polo Inter-Nation Cup 2022 on Friday, May 20, at the OCBC Aquatic Center here.

The latest defeat, which gave the Filipinos a 0-3 record, only highlighted the team’s difficulties and lack of training for nearly two years because of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national team was still in the fight against Thailand during the first three quarters, 5-8. However, the Filipinos weren’t able to match the intensity and energy of Thailand on both ends in the final 8-minute period.

Philippine team mentor Rey Galang said that they actually don’t have any expectations of contending for a podium finish at the start of the five-nation event considering the situation they had during the lockdowns in the country.

“The team didn’t train for nearly two years. We only started last March with swimming sessions — not the actual water polo training — that’s why we know playing here at a high level will be tough for the players. In their mind they want to compete, but the body can’t keep up,” said Galang

“But for me, for the coaching staff, for the team, we all know that opportunities to play in tournaments like these will be important as we move forward, as we try to get to that same level we were in 2019. So hopefully we get to play and train abroad in the coming months,” added Galang.

The national team, silver medal winner in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, is actually using the event as preparation for the Asian Games in China. But since the said event has been postponed, Galang said that this gives them enough time to get ready for the meet.

Also, the Filipinos are eyeing to improve their silver medal finish in the SEA Games with the possible inclusion of the water polo in the 2023 biennial meet to be hosted by Cambodia.

“We’re looking now at not just the Asian Games, but the SEA Games because from what we gathered, we received news that water polo will be included in Cambodia so that’s good news,” said Galang, who is with longtime assistant coach in former national team stalwart Dale Evangelista.

The national team is set to face Singapore A on Friday night and finish the tournament with a match against Malaysia. Regardless of what happens, Evangelista is confident that the water polo team will bounce back hard in the SEA Games in Cambodia.

“Give us time, I know the mentality of these players. We’ve only just begun,” said Evangelista, who — similar to other members of the team — is very much thankful to the opportunity to participate in the tournament here.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) led by its chairman Butch Ramirez, and Philippine Swimming Inc. (PSI), headed by its president Lailani Velasco, made this trip possible for the national team.


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