MANILA, Philippines – After seven intense weeks of competition, the Philippine Volcanoes have achieved their goal by qualifying to the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens, the premier tournament in the World Seven Series competition.
The Volcanoes found themselves in the final stage of the three-leg 2018 Asia Sevens Series in Sri Lanka this weekend, needing no less than a bronze medal finish to clinch overall third place behind powerhouses Japan and Hong Kong.
On Day 1, the Volcanoes went up against Asian Games bronze medalists Korea, where an in-form Philippine team secured a 34-5 victory. In their second match, the Volcanoes held on for a 24-19 triumph over reigning Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Malaysia.
Unfortunately for the Volcanoes, they lost four players to injury while Vincent Amar Young was suspended for an accidental high ball collision.
Three players were unavailable for the Philippines on Day 2 -- Mark Mapacpac Roberts and Robert Luceno Fogerty were out from an accidental head collision, while Young was serving a two-game suspension.
Still, the Volcanoes managed to put together good performances, even leading against No. 1 ranked Japan for most of the way before falling to the champions, 21-12.
Against the second-seeded Hong Kong in the semi-finals, the Volcanoes had another valiant performance, almost forcing an upset before a last-gasp score by Hong Kong gave them a 19-12 win and a spot in the finals.
The Volcanoes faced tournament hosts Sri Lanka for a spot in the Top 3. The two squads had an even head-to-head record, with the Tuskers beating the Volcanoes in Round 1 in Hong Kong, before the Volcanoes got their revenge in Round 2 in Korea two weeks ago.
The Philippines saved their best performance for last, beating the host team, 19-7.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Volcanoes captain Christopher Arpon Bird. "We knew we had the team to do it, but to play with only eight fit players against the top teams in Asia and to perform the way we did – I'm over the moon, and so proud of the boys."
The Volcanoes finished 2018 in third place in Asia, and currently sit in first place among their Southeast Asian neighbors.
"It's a special feeling for the team, and they deserve it," said general manager Jake Letts.
"The coaching staff and players have worked so hard for a very long period of time. It has taken years to get back to this point. The way they performed – I have only the upmost respect for what they achieved and can continue to achieve," he added.
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