Without Olympian Ian Lariba on board, the national table tennis team faces a tough job of hitting their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games targets.
Philippine Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) president Ting Ledesma admitted that the absence of Lariba in the biennial meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia makes it more difficult for the team to post a podium finish.
“We have players who are next in line to Ian Lariba but without her playing for the SEA Games, we will have a tougher job,” said Ledesma on Tuesday during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
The 22-year old tennis star is undergoing chemotherapy sessions at St. Luke Medical Center in Quezon City after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia two weeks ago.
Ledesma said he recently met with Lariba’s mother and they were informed that the De La Salle University alumna’s immune system is still weak.
With Lariba out, Ledesma urged the rest of the national paddlers to step up in the coming SEA Games slated on August 19 to 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where seven gold medals are at stake.
Among the players seeing action in Malaysia are Richard Gonzales, John Nayre, Ryan Jacolo, Isias Seronio, Japeth Adaza in the men’s side and Sendrina Balatbat, Rose Jean Fadol, Emy Rose Dael, Rizumo Ono and Jamaica Sy in the women’s side.
As part of their preparation for SEA Games, the squad will compete in two international tournaments in Singapore and Indonesia next month.
Meanwhile, Ledesma said the FTTP would organize a fundraising tournament in collaboration with the DLSU Office of Sports Development to help cover the cost of Lariba’s treatment.