MANILA, Philippines – Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons warmed up for the 30th Southeast Asian Games by dominating the 2019 Rebisco Beach Volleyball International Open this weekend.
The tandem claimed a masterful 21-10, 21-16 win over Dij Rodriguez and Dzi Gervacio in an all-Philippines final before an appreciative crowd at the Sands SM By The Bay Sunday night.
Pons and Rondina won all six of their matches, in what should be a confidence boost to the country's brightest medal hopes in the beach volleyball competition in the SEA Games.
"Napakahirap na makipagbakbakan sa mga international teams, lalo na't matatangkad, mas experienced at mas beteranong mga player," said Rondina, a four-time UAAP champion for University of Santo Tomas (UST).
"What we did is makakuha kami ng experience. Makaranas kami ng preparation for the SEA Games, okay na kami doon. Hindi namin ini-expect na aabot kami sa finals. Thankful kami," she added.
Rodriguez and Gervacio, the Philippines' second team in the biennial meet, gave their fancied rivals fits in the second set but Rondina and Pons displayed tremendous composure to prevail in the championship match.
Efraim Dimaculangan and Rancel Varga, reunited for this tournament, scored a 21-12, 21-18 win over KR Guzman and Jaron Requinton to annex the men's crown of the tournament presented by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc., in cooperation with Beach Volleyball Republic.
Not even an power failure could stop Dimaculangan and Varga from winning the opening set in a dominant fashion. Dimaculangan and Varga were leading, 9-4, against Guzman and Requinton when play stopped.
Varga was delighted to follow his success in the UAAP, where he emerged as season MVP and helping UST win the crown last month.
"Thankful and blessed po. Unexpected ang panalo namin kasi matatangkad pa kalaban namin," said Varga, one of the country's rising stars in the sand court. "Siguro po, lucky charm itong year na ito."
Edmar Bonono and Jude Garcia prevailed over DMM-Thailand 2's Chaiphichit Khongin and Chairat Hanrasa, 21-18, 21-15, to claim third place, completing the Philippines 1-2-3 finish in the men's division.
Hong Kong's Yeung Wai Yan and Koo Yung Yung scored a thrilling 22-20, 21-23, 15-13 win over New Zealand's Renei Ursem and Olivia Macdonald to claim third place in the women's division.
A total of 20 teams, eight in women and 12 in men, participated in the competition.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.