With the 16-point opening day loss to Indonesia behind them, the Philippine Men’s Water Polo team, known as the Gators, faced a Malaysian squad that consistently ranked in the bottom half of the table in the past few editions of the Southeast Asian Games. Despite trailing by two after the first period, it seemed to be an even matchup between the two teams.
However, what the Malaysians had and the Gators did not was international exposure. It was clear that the rookie-laden squad of the Philippines lacked the experience that will allow them to register a win against Malaysia. While Gators goalkeeper Tani Gomez Jr. has over ten years of experience under his belt, his stellar defense of the goal was not enough to prevent the Malaysians from scoring.
As if team defense was the only problem of the Gators, they also went scoreless the entire first period, most of their attempts being off-target. When Juan Paolo Serrano was finally able to deliver a goal for the Gators late in the second period, Malaysia simple struck back the following play. Luckily, veteran Norton Alamara kept it close by finishing the half with a goal of his own. The first half ended with a score of 4-2 in favor of Malaysia.
After the break, it was apparent that fatigue started to set in for the Gators as they allowed the Malaysians to outswim them time and again. The counter-attack style of play of Malaysia yielded them six goals during the second half. N. Alamara and his brother Mummar Alamara were able to get through the net but it would not be enough as the Malaysians already broke away from the Gators.
The game ended with the Gators scoring four against Malaysia’s ten. Hopes of a podium finish for the Gators start to fade as they have yet to face powerhouse Singapore.
They plunge back into action today against Thailand at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.