The Philippines’ bid for a podium finish in women’s volleyball got a big boost yesterday with the withdrawal of Singapore from the event, a little over a month before the 30th Southeast Asian Games kicks off with an elaborate ceremonies at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The withdrawal of the Singaporeans left only the Philippines, defending champion Thailand and Vietnam to battle it out for the gold medal in the volleyball event slated at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Long suffering from a medal drought, the Filipinas play the Vietnamese on Dec. 3 as it open its drive for the championship which the Thais won for a record 11th time almost two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
The host team is made up of Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, Kalei Mau, Mika Reyes, Mylene Paat, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maddie Madayag, Ces Molina, Dawn Macandili, Kath Arado, Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado, all standouts in two big leagues in the country but have yet to shine in international competitions like the SEA Games.
The announcement of Singapore’s withdrawal was made by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas secretary-general Ariel Paredes, who is in Japan at present to check on the progress of the team’s 12-day training camp.
The four remaining squads will clash in a single round robin, where the top two squads will play in the gold medal match, while the third and fourth placers dispute the bronze.
The Filipina spikers battle Thailand on Dec. 5 and Indonesia on Dec. 7 in the biennial meet set Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in various parts of Luzon.
In Kuala Lumpur, the Filipinas got destroyed by Thailand in straight sets in their semifinal round duel and missed a podium finish after it lost to Vietnam in the battle for the bronze medal.
Meanwhile, the SEA Games squash events will be held instead at the Manila Polo Club since the venue intended for the competitions inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex will not be finished on time.
Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Celia Kiram said the building between the Rizal stadium and the Ninoy Aquino stadium will be finished before the SEA Games.
However, delivery of the flooring and equipment bought in Germany remains uncertain.
“Definitely, matatapos ‘yung building but ‘yung ilalatag nila sa special flooring manggagaling ‘yun sa Germany, baka hindi dumating on time,” Kiram told sportswriters.
Writers, given a tour by the PSC at the ongoing construction and renovations inside the RMSC yesterday, found out that the Rizal coliseum and Ninoy Aquino stadium are nearing completion, but the squash venue is still in the early stages of construction.