The water polo national team gets an early test as the Filipinos face Asian Games champion Kazakhstan in the Asian Water Polo Championships 2023 as action kicks off Wednesday, March 22 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore.
The national team – collectively called the 'Pandesal Boys' by their supporters – faces the team that last won the gold medal during the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.
Aside from Kazakhstan, the national team is in GroupB with Iran – bronze medalist in the 2018 Asian Games – and Hong Kong, while in Group A are host nation Singapore, Uzbekistan, Thailand and China.
“We expect a very tough competition, we have Kazakhstan and Iran in our group,” said former national team captain Dale Evangelista, who is now the head coach following the recent retirement of longtime mentor and former player Reynaldo Galang.
“But we're prepared, we're an intact team,” added Evangelista, who earned silver medals in the SEA Games in 2005, 2007 and 2009, and served as an assistant coach to Galang in 2019.
Leading the campaign of the national team are veteran goalie Tanie Gomez Jr. and ace scorer Roy Canete, as well as Adan Gonzales, Macgyver Reyes, Marc Valdez, Romark Belo and Mummar Alamara.
Other members of the team are Mico Anota, Matthew Yu, Aljon Salonga, Paolo Serrano,. AbnelAmilajod, and newcomer Joey Lavina.
Sanctioned by the Asian Swimming Federation, the event serves as a qualifying tournament for the WorldAquatics Water Polo World Cup 2023 – Division 2 Asian round event on May 1-7 in Berlin, Germany.
The top four finishers will earn slots in the worlds.
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