MANILA, Philippines -- Like the rest of the Filipino athletes in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games, members of the beach volleyball national team are counting on their home court advantage as they vie for the elusive medal.
The last time the Philippines won a medal in women's beach volleyball was during the 2005 SEA Games in Manila, when the pair of Heidi Ilustre and Diane Pascua won bronze.
This year, the women's teams composed of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, and Dzi Gervacio and Floremel Rodriguez, are hoping to land on the podium. Also hoping for the best is the men's team of Edmar Bonono and Jude Garcia, and Anthony Arbasto and James Buytrago.
"With all the support we received, our teams are hoping to get far in this SEA Games," said team manager Cha Soriano in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.
She cited the Philippine Sports Commission and Rebisco as their biggest supporters.
Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) training director Peter Cayco said that as host, the Philippines is allowed to field two pairs in each division.
Beach volleyball offers two gold medals this year, and will be staged from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6 in Subic. Prior to that, the LVPI will stage the Rebisco International Beach Volleyball Competition on Nov. 15 to 17 at Mall of Asia's Sands by the Bay.
"We want our players to be in Subic early," said Cayco. "We want our players to familiarize themselves with the viscosity (thickness and consistency) of the sand in the actual venue. That should give us the homecourt advantage."
Vying in the final tune-up tournament for the SEA Games are New Zealand, Hong Kong, Palau, and SEA Games favorite Thailand.
"It will boil down to our commitment and mindset. But we worked very hard in training," said Rondina, the former University of Santo Tomas star who won four beach volleyball titles in the UAAP.
"We just have to treat each game as a championship game," she added.
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