MANILA, Philippines – With their eyes locked on a first-ever gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine water polo team enters the crucial stage of its preparation for the biennial meet.
With a little more than a month to go before the country hosts the 30th SEA Games, the Filipinos are schedule to compete in the FINA Water Polo Challengers Cup, scheduled for October 8-13 in Singapore.
"It's a very important event for the national team," said veteran coach Rey Galang after the team arrived in Singapore on Saturday morning.
"It's an event where we can gauge where we are in terms of our readiness, our preparation for the SEA Games because other Southeast Asian nations are also participating in this tournament," he explained.
The national team is in Group A with Ireland, Malaysia, Zimbabwe and host Singapore, while in Group B are Austria, India, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Prior to this event, the Philippine team competed in Indonesia and Hong Kong tournaments – both part of preparation for the SEA Games – and on both occasions the Filipinos did well.
As for the FINA Challengers' Cup, this is only the second time for the Filipinos, and first since 2008 when it was held in Kuwait. The national team placed fourth overall out of 12 teams.
"This is really good for our national team because it's an opportunity for the players to improve and get experience because we’ll be able to face tough competition in the Challengers' Cup," said former water polo star turned coach Dale Evangelista.
Singapore has won the gold medal since water polo competition started in the SEA Games back in 1965. Indonesia and Malaysia settled for silver and bronze medals in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
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