Pinay sepak players eye bronze in SEA Games

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Philippine Amateur Sepak Takraw Association (PASTA) President Karen Tan­chanco-Caballero aims for a bronze-medal finish for the women’s national team in the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this August.

Tanchanco-Caballero said that she was pleased with the development of the ladies team after a major revamp last year.

The top PASTA official added that the overhaul of the roster was necessary to resolve issues among them allegations of favoritism in the squad.

Members of the Philippine Sepak Takraw Team during the 2016 World Sepak Takraw Championships in October 2016, in Thailand. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“There were issues of favoritism and some matters that I don’t condone that’s why I’ve changed the coaching staff and players. They all went through another try-out while coaches have re-applied for their post,” said Tanchanco-Caballero in an interview with The Manila Times.

With the retooled team on board, she believes that the Philippine national women’s team can improve its performance in the biennial meet though she admitted that it is too early to shoot for the gold.

“I am looking at about two to four years more. In fact, our elite men took us good five years for them to evolve and be where they are now,” she said.

Currently, the PH men’s team ranks No. 1 in the world.

Barely four months before the 11-nation biennial meet, the team is now busy preparing for the SEA Games.

The five-women and 12-men squads are currently on a month-long training in Myanmar under the supervision of the Myanmar Sepaktakraw Federation.

“I hang on to the fact that most, if not all, of our current national athletes are giving their 101 percent commitment to maintaining our world standing. Realistically, we are looking at bronze but silver, at most,” she said.

The men’s team will be competing in the men’s doubles, men’s regu, men’s chinlone primary and men’s chinlone linking while the women’s team will test their resolve in the ladies doubles and ladies regu events.

According to Tanchanco-Caballero, defending champion Myanmar will be their toughest opponent in the biennial meet along with Vietnam and Thailand.

“Every game, we have this state of mind that we should respect the opponent and we don’t relax, be it strong team or not. We are always hungry to win,” she claimed.

The team, which is set to return on May 1, will take a week break before flying to Dipolog City for a rigid three-month training.

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