The Philippines suffered a close 7-8 decision to Malaysia in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) on Wednesday at the National Aquatic Center inside the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia got off to a hot start, nailing a 4-1 lead in the first half but the Filipinos mounted a strong comeback in the third quarter with a 4-2 run to close the gap to 5-6.
Team captain Roy Canete Jr. scored a goal on the right wing in the fourth frame to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:30 remaining.
But the Malaysians took on Tan Xi Yun who threw the winning goal in the last 1:58 of the game to seal the win for the host country.
Alamara Mumar actually had a possible game-tying goal but was nullified by the referee because of 30-second shot clock.
“It seemed like a good goal, but we were playing against host Malaysia,” said Philippine water polo team Hungarian coach Gabi Egedi.
“We just cannot sleep in the first two quarters and hope to beat Malaysia on their home grounds and win. I know the game was early (at 9 a.m,) but we should have played like we did against Thailand last Tuesday,” he added.
The Filipinos fell to 1-1 after stunning 2015 Singapore SEA Games bronze medalist Thailand on the opening day via a 9-7 victory.
The Philippines will be facing defending champion Singapore today at 11 a.m.
“If my boys played as well as they did against Thailand we still have a chance against Singapore. Definitely we will not go out without a fight,” stressed Egedi.
Singapore is coming off a 13-2 demolition of Thailand also on Wednesday.
After Singapore, the Philippines plays vs Indonesia on Sunday.
The top team after the round-robin event will be declared as champion while the next two teams will pocket the silver and bronze.
In 2007 edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, the Philippines placed second behind Singapore.
EMIL C. NOGUERA