Since 2005, the Philippines has been the perennial bridesmaid to Singapore in Men’s Water Polo of the Southeast Asian Games. After key players retired, Team Philippines had to rebuild and skip the last edition of the SEA Games in 2013. They are now back with only two familiar faces – goalkeeper and captain Tani Gomez Jr. and centre forward Norton Alamara.
Their return to the SEA Games scene was not pretty at all as Indonesia, the new bridesmaid of Singapore in the games, outswam and outplayed the rookie-laden squad on their way to a comfortable 22-6 victory.
Top scorer Juan Paolo Serrano tried to keep it close early in the game by contributing three goals in the first period as opposed to Indonesia’s six. Defense proved to be the weakness though of the young squad as they were outgunned from the start of the second period where Indonesia utilized their counter-attack game to frustrate Gomez all game long. Help would seldom come in time for the veteran as he was mostly left to contend against unmarked Indonesians.
Indonesia scored another six goals in the second as well as the third periods. Rookie driver Reynaldo Salonga tried to help in the offense by coming up with two goals while Alamara made sure he didn’t miss the penalty shot early in the fourth period. All these, however, were not nearly sufficient to catch up to Indonesia’s twenty-two goals. As the buzzer sounded, this game may prove to be the Philippines’ biggest SEA Games loss in the past decade or two.
Team Philippines hopes to bounce back quickly as they face Malaysia at the OCBC Aquatic Centre today. A win over Malaysia will keep their goal to land in the podium alive.