Team Philippines opens SEA Games bid in beach handball, football

The Philippine football and beach handball teams plunge into action just a few days before the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the struggles to prepare for the competition, the national beach handball team feels ready for battle as action starts in this event of the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Friday, May 6 at the Quang Ninh province in Vietnam.

Philippine team coach Jana Franquelli said the team did everything to prepare even during the pandemic lockdowns, and last April, they finally had their first foreign stint in two years in Iran.

Now, all the preparation will be put to test for the Philippine beach handball squad as the Filipinos face Thailand at 4 pm (5 pm Manila time) at the sand court in Quang Ninh province, which is 157 kilometers away from the main hub in Hanoi .

“We already made the necessary adjustments from the time we had our first international tournament in Iran, where we also played Qatar, Oman, India and Vietnam. The adjustments are more on technical and tactical,” said Franquelli.

“We’re excited, we’re upbeat to play again and represent the Philippines in this Southeast Asian Games. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll definitely give it our best for the flag and country,” she added.

The men’s football team, meanwhile, battles Timor Leste in Group A action also at 4 pm (5 pm Manila time) at the 20,000-seating Viet Tri Stadium in Phu Tho.

Football competitions in the regional meet are restricted to under-23, but each country can field two athletes from its seniors squad.

Stephan Schrock, 35, and Joven Bedic Hervas, 31, lead the team composed of Enrique Fernandez, Enrico Alañanon, Scott Philip Galang, Francis Palogan, Jaime Domingo, Christian Mangaron, Sandro Miguel Sison, Geri Veliganio, Jacob Reyes, Matt Ocampo, Miguel Antonio Pangcog, Quincy Boltron, Jayvee Solon, Yrick Rapisura, Jermi Navarro, Dennis Salazar, Oliver Saludares, and Oskari Kekkonen.

The Philippines is hoping to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1991.

Bronze winner

Back in 2019 when the Philippines hosted the SEA Games, the national handball team finished with a bronze medal behind gold medal winner Vietnam and silver medalist Thailand.

The national team is composed of Daryoush Zandi, Dhane Miguelle Varela, Josef Maximillan Valdez, Rey Joshua Tabuzo, John Michael Pasco, Jamael Pangandaman, Manuel Lasangue, Jr., Andrew Michael Harris, Mark Vincent Dubouzet and Van Jacob Baccay.

After their game against Thailand, the Filipinos will next face host Vietnam on Saturday at 5 pm and Singapore on Sunday at 4 pm The four nations will play another round from May 9 to 11.

The top three teams after the double-round event will be the podium finishers.

Meanwhile, the Azkals under-23 team of head coach Norman Fegidero also gears up for a stiff challenge from defending champion Vietnam on Sunday at 8 pm, followed by Myanmar on Tuesday at 4 pm. They play Indonesia on May 13 at 4 pm to conclude the group stage.

Formalities for the kickboxing events also start with the medical examinations, weigh-in, and technical meetings on Friday with the competitions set for Sunday at the Bac Ninh stadium, some 100 kilometers away from the Hanoi main hub. –

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