PHL eyes two golds in squash in KL SEA Games

Sun.Star Baguio - - PRIMESPORTS -

THE Philip­pine squash team hopes to win at least two gold medals in the South­east Asian Games in Malaysia this Au­gust.

The Squash Rack­ets As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (SRAP) has hired for­mer Malaysian na­tional player Valentino Bong to boost the team's chances in the bi­en­nial meet slated to be held on Aug. 19-30 in Kuala Lumpur.

"I've been with the team for a month and I see a big im­prove­ment," said the 28year-old Bong, a mem­ber of the team that won the gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Sin­ga­pore, dur­ing an in­ter­view on Tues­day in the weekly PSA Fo­rum held at the Phoenix Ho­tel in Pasay.

Bong was ac­com­pa­nied by Filipino coach Jun Pa­gan­pan, ath­letes Robert Gar­cia, David Pelino, Rey­mark Be­gor­nia and Myca Arib­ado, and SRAP pres­i­dent Richard Bach­mann.

Bong, cur­rently ranked No. 177 in the Pro­fes­sional Squash As­so­ci­a­tion, said he be­lieves in the ca­pa­bil­ity of Filipinos to ex­cel. This is also one of the rea­sons why he agreed to coach them, he said.

"Given more train­ing and ex­po­sure to high-level com­pe­ti­tions, the Filipinos can win medals," added Bong, whose best world rank­ings was No. 122.

Bong is half-Filipino. His mother Glo­ria de Dios hails from Cavite while his fa­ther is a Cus­toms of­fi­cer in Malaysia. He was born in Sarawak's cap­i­tal city of Kuch­ing and moved to the Philip­pines where he stayed for five years be­fore go­ing back to Malaysia. He is the elMANILA dest among four sib­lings and is the only ath­lete in the fam­ily.

Pa­gan­pan noted the ben­e­fit of Bong's in­clu­sion in the team. "Our play­ers will def­i­nitely learn a lot from coach Bong, who is a very good player."

The na­tional team has re­cently com­peted in the Asian Squash Cham­pi­onships in Chen­nai, In­dia.

Mean­while, Bach­mann an­nounced the stag­ing of the 2nd and 3rd Nis­san Squash Cham­pi­onships on May 16-21 at the Manila Polo Club.

Some 60 play­ers, in­clud­ing 16 women, are ex­pected to join the USD5,000 tour­na­ment which is part of the Philip­pine Squash As­so­ci­a­tion World Tour.

"All our play­ers will com­pete in the Nis­san tour­na­ment, which is a pre­lude to the SEA Games," said Bach­mann, who will act as deputy chef de mis­sion of the Philip­pine del­e­ga­tion to the SEA Games.

The SRAP of­fi­cial said Arib­ado is in the main draw of the women's di­vi­sion while Gar­cia is en­tered as a wild card in the men's di­vi­sion.

Bach­mann said that af­ter the Nis­san event, the na­tional squash team will go to New Zealand to com­pete in 3 to 4 tour­na­ments in the PSA World Tour. PNA

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