The Philippine Sepak Takraw team bested powerhouse Thailand, 15-21, 22-20, 21-19, to earn a slot in finals of the 31st King’s Cup Sepak Takraw Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.
The team, led by Jason Huerte, Rheyjey Ortouste and Mark Gonzales displayed solid defense to stun the World No. 1 Thai squad.
“[That is the] fruit of the hard work of our athletes and coaches. This was indeed a historical win since nobody beats powerhouse Thailand in their home turf. Not until today,” said Philippine Amateur Sepak Takraw Association (PASTA) Secretary General Karen Caballero in an interview with The Manila Times on Friday.
Caballero added that they were “humbled and grateful” that team Philippines is now a world powerhouse in the sport of sepak takraw.
The Filipino team will face Myanmar in the finals.
The Philippines defeated Singapore, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia in the elimination round to earn a spot in the semifinals.
During the opening day of competition, the Philippines won two medals—one silver and one bronze in the men and women’s hoop takraw categories, respectively.
After years of hard work, the country moved up to the Premiere Level or the Top 6 teams in the world.
“We hope to get the equal amount of respect and admiration back home as the love and support and respect of other countries here are just so overwhelming,” Caballero concluded.
Besides Huerte, Ortouste, and Gonzales, the other members of the team are Ronsited Gabayeron, Emmanuel Escote, Reznan Pabriga, John Jeffret Morcillos, John Bobier, JC Lee, Alvin Pangan, Joeart Jumawan and Rhemwil Catana.
The women’s team, on the other hand, is composed of Deseree Autor, Gelyn Evora, Josefina Maat, Mary Ann Lopez, Rizzalyn Amolacion, and Kristel Carloman.
PASTA is the national sports association of sepak takraw in the Philippines.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID