It was quite an awesome experience for me supporting the national cause, Palawan.  I am honored to witness one of the NetBall games of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games at the Sta. Rosa City Multi-Purpose Sports Complex on Wednesday watching Team Pilipinas vs Thailand.

Pitted against a much taller and obviously more seasoned squad, our ladies team did everything they can to pull off an upset but teamwork and the height advantage were key ingredients as Thailand walked away with a 64-29 win.  A dominant figure for Thailand is 6’2 center Paylabatung who willed herself inside against a smaller Philippine contingent.

The Philippines had a bright spot in forwarding Cenarosa but the team really got outclassed against the Thais.  The Thais were more defensively oriented and aggressive in this game deflecting passes, blocking the passing lanes and even hustling for loose balls.  Offensively, they are also cat-quick.  Sharp passes and cuts and off-ball movement dictated their dominance on this game.

The Philippines’ record as of this writing is 0-3 and is in danger of not advancing to the next round.  A win on their last elimination game this week can still help seed them but we’ve got to play harder to achieve that.

It was a learning experience for team Philippines but I strongly believe that this sport, given support and investment, can well be a medal sport for our country in the Southeast Asian Games level.

Team Pilipinas is committed to giving everything they’ve got at the NetBall games of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Our Hosting Experience

There were quite a few stories about athletes’ bookings, shuttle, meal, and logistical items being missed, delayed or just simply messed up.  Our country doesn’t have a central multi-purpose sports venue where most teams can play.  We have set multiple venues in various cities across Luzon (Manila, Pasig, Laguna, Tarlac, Pampanga, etc), that in itself may cause some hiccups here and there.

I am not taking a hit on our chef de mission’s capability to execute nor am I criticising individuals who could have done better but the eye-opener here is we, as a country, have got a long way to go in hosting world-class events such as the Southeast Asian Games.

If we have the ambition to host International Tournaments, we should think big.  We are a small country and hosting a World Cup or Olympics can only materialize if we are a co-host of another country for us to accommodate huge contingents.

In this version of the Southeast Asian Games, a litmus test for our sports hosting capabilities, we see some lapses that need to be threshed out for us to be a world-class sporting country.

We have good facilities, the New Clark City sports complex in Tarlac is expected to be the place of the event for the future, good athletes, and hard-working countrymen whom we know would want to succeed in everything we do.  It is just a matter of putting all things together, setting politics aside or grandstanding, simply blue-collared work that can get the job done … and yes we do need the support of the private sector, the business conglomerates to help funding events.

We are getting there Pilipinas.  Let’s learn from the lessons of this SEA Games for a better hosting in the future.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)