The success of the Philippine men and women’s bowling teams in the recent World Championships hopefully will spur their campaign in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi.
Legendary bowler Bong Coo said winning one or more gold medals is definitely the target in Vietnam and the bronze medal finish of the Filipino bowlers in Dubai last week serves as the perfect springboard to help them attain that goal.
“Ngayon ang target namin is the Southeast Asian Games. In the past SEA Games, hindi kami nakaka-gold. Nu’ng panahon namin, walang problema. Kapag naka-bronze, umiiyak kami. Ngayon ‘pag bronze, umiiyak din, pero sa tuwa,” said Coo, a world bowling Hall of Famer and winner of four world championships.
“Pero ngayon ang target namin is to really deliver the gold for the country kasi alam kong kayang-kaya namin,” she added.
National women’s coach Jojo Canare and national bowlers Rachelle Leon and Merwin Tan shared the same optimism with the Philippine Bowling Federation secretary general when they appeared in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.
Canare handled the women’s team composed of Leon, Mades Arles, Norel Nuevo, and Dubai-based Uella Marcial that bagged the bronze medal, while Biboy Rivera and Rey Reyes called the shots for the men’ side of Kenneth Chua, Patrick Nuqui, Merwin Tan, and Ian Dychangco, which did the same feat.
The podium finish was the first for the country since Rivera bagged the gold in the same meet 15 years ago.
But the Filipino keglers, whose campaign was helped funded by former national bowler and current Senate President Tito Sotto, had to do it under tough conditions in Dubai, with the semis and finals being played outdoor in an experience which both Leon and Tan described as ‘rare and one-of-a-kind.’
The teams’ preparation was also very short going to the meet due to the pandemic situation in the country.
“Umalis kaming medyo nakatungo kasi napaka-iksi ng aming preparations. Pero gaya ng sinabi ko sa kanila nu’ng final frame na, gusto ko dramatic exit. So at least umuwi kami ng nakataas noo kahit paano,” said Canare in the same session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, Daily Tribune, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Training of the national team starts in December as tryouts will be held to fill in the team that will compete in the SEA Games set May 12-23. The Philippine Sports Commission, according to Coo, mandated a criteria that medalists in the last edition of the biennial meet held in Manila be included as part of the Philippine delegation.
The bowling team bagged a silver (men’s team) and bronze (women’s team) in the 30th edition of the SEA Games.
Coo said two from that medal winning team has retired in Lisa Del Rosario and Frederick Ong, but Kenneth Chua, Patrick Nuqui, Tan, Alexis Sy, Lara Posadas-Wong, and Bea Hernandez are still with the national squad.
“Lara has started training already after niya mag-asawa and magka-anak,” said Coo. “We hope we can have a very good team.”
Bowling power Singapore and Malaysia loom as the biggest threat in the SEA Games, added Coo, two countries which incidentally, beat the Filipinos in the semifinals of the Dubai world meet and denied them a shot at the gold.
The team will be doing its regular practices at Star Mall at the moment, but the bowling federation is set for a Nov. 24 meeting with the PSC on the possibility of putting up the team’s training camp in Bataan as it prepares for the SEA Games.
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