It is quite notable that aside from the usual Basketball and Softball teams, our men’s Water Polo Squad also produces good results in every edition of the Southeast Asian Games. With the former pool greats taking on other jobs and challenges, one person remained to be the guiding light to the new generation.
Tani Gomez, Goalkeeper and Captain of the team, will be competing in his seventh SEAG, and he, of all people, wants to finally get the country’s first gold in the sport. It would not be easy, however, as most of his teammates are joining their first-ever Games. To counter, Gomez said, “fortunately, nag-tetraining na lang kami for preparation sa SEA Games para ready kami, handa kami kung ano man yung kalalabasan.”
He, along with the other veteran player, Norton Alamara, also keeps on encouraging the rookies, and reminding them of what they felt competing in previous Games and the training they need to do to perform well.
The team was formed last year following the diaspora of the old members of the team. Despite not seeing action in many tournaments, the squad is intensely training for the upcoming SEAG. With this preparation, Gomez shared, “mas malaki ang inimprove ng new players [kaysa] sa dati. Now, na-improve pa namin yung movement and skills ng mga new players.” The squad worked on their chemistry and focused on their respective forte in these trainings. The veteran keeper also expressed that they went back to the basics. He explained, “kung hindi natin ibabalik sa basic, kung ii-skip natin, magkakaproblema tayo.” Basic skill, in this case, includes passing and shooting.
When asked on what will be the ensemble’s advantage on the upcoming SEA Games, the long-time campaigner pointed out offense as their main edge. He cited, “mas advantage tayo sa offense kasi malakas tayo sa swimming, malakas tayo sa endurance.” The team boasts of the likes of NCAA men’s swimming Most Valuable Player, JR Sunglao, and UAAP multiple medalist, Aljon Salonga, who will also be the team’s weapons on the attack.
What is interesting to note is that in this SEAG, most teams are a mixture of veterans and fresh talents, including the host and powerhouse Singapore. The Philippines skipper was delighted of this fact. With this, he excitedly said, “malaki yung chance, [kasi] magiging level lahat.”
Given the preparation and the even level of competition, Gomez is optimistic that the team can finally grab the gold that the country wanted for many years. At the end of the day, the Philippine men’s water polo team will perform their best in this attempt to get to the top. That alone will be the driving point for us to be proud of these gentlemen. Moreoever, the gold medal will be a fitting gift to the team, and more particularly, for Tani, who has dedicated himself to serve his team.
Here is the road to that coveted gold for the men’s water polo team: OCBC Aquatic Center, Singapore
June 11 3pm vs Indonesia
June 12 6:30pm vs Malaysia
June 13 6:30pm vs Thailand
June 14 8pm vs Singapore