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Road to SEA Games 2015: Competition calls

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road to sea games 2015

Vietnam's national women's volleyball team, headed by new coach Thai Thanh Tung, are targeting at least a silver medal in Singapore this June. photo: Facebook

As the 28th SEA Games draws closer, we bring you weekly highlights from news headlines splashed across the region’s sports back pages.

Be it player selection, warm-up tournaments, or personnel shifts, Southeast Asia’s national sports teams are in the midst of intense preparation and plan to leave no room for error ahead of the 28th SEA Games.

Philippines: Basketball team boasts strong line-up ahead of championships

CNN Philippines reports that the Philippines national basketball team is all ready to showcase its skills at the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) tournament in Singapore this month. The elite squad will be competing for a spot at this September’s FIBA Asia Championships as well, as the SEABA event serves as a qualifying tournament.

With the SEABA Cup and 28th SEA Games drawing closer, the final representatives for both regional meets have been chosen. Veteran star Marchus Douthit will headline the team, alongside other big names like Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks J.r., Mac Belo, Troy Rosario, and Kevin Ferrer.

"I’m confident with the players who were selected. We need to work on our cohesiveness inside the court. Especially with limited practice time, we have to make the most of what we have and make every training day an opportunity to get better as a team," expressed local university league Most Valuable Player Ravena.

Malaysia: Aussie-born player makes football squad’s first cut

Goal Malaysia and Utusan Online brought similar news on selections for the country’s under-23 football team. Having shortlisted 29 of his best to play for the SEA Games this year, head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee also picked 20-year-old Pahang Football Association player Matthew Davis to complete his provisional squad.

Although Ong sees potential in the Aussie-born player, Davis will have to perform well during training sessions in order to make the final 20 that Malaysia will be sending to the SEA Games.

“He still needs to perform well consistently, and I have to see how he plays with Pahang and how he works with other players in the squad. I am still selecting my final squad and I still have to drop 10 players before heading to Singapore, so his place is not yet guaranteed," the head coach said.

Indonesia: Rowers gauge their strength

Indonesia’s rowers are shouldering high expectations, according to Jakarta Globe. They are seeking nine gold medals at the SEA Games this year.

This conviction comes in the wake of their exceptional performances at two recent events – the Asian Cup in Singapore, and the Sydney International Rowing Regatta.

Obtaining five out of the 18 titles that they had campaigned for in the former tournament, the team defeated favourites and potential SEA Games medal contenders such as Thailand’s Phuttharaksa Neegree-Rodenburg and Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Trinh.

Although they were not as successful at the Australian regatta, Indonesia team coach Boudewijn Van Opstal expressed satisfaction with the performance, and hoped to build on their display ahead of June’s SEA Games.

“Australia was very good to us. Good racing, good results. Everybody made it to the final. And in some events, we almost made it to the podium. Unfortunately, the Australia national team was still a little bit too fast for us,” he remarked.

road to sea games 2015

Singapore shuttlers Vanessa Neo and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta will have another shot at defeating their Indonesian rivals in June after losing to world number five pairing Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the 2015 OUE Singapore Open’s quarter-final. photo: Facebook

Singapore: National shuttlers seek home crowd cheers

Vanessa Neo and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta have failed to overthrow Indonesian mixed doubles and world number five pairing Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the 2015 OUE Singapore Open’s quarter-final match, AsiaOne reported.

Neo and Chrisnanta were the only Singaporeans to advance that far in the tournament, but the nation’s top badminton duo may have another shot at defeating their rivals again at the SEA Games.

Indeed, the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) is hopeful that support from the home crowd this June will be a boost to the players.

“Home support is definitely crucial. When the players are so tense and every point counts, you’d want to hear a voice out there shouting for Singapore, shouting your name, cheering you on,” added SBA preside Lee Yi Shyan.

Chrisnanta thanked the local crowd for doing just that at the Singapore Open: “Thank you very much for your support. We could really feel the spirit when we played. It was really different from when we played in other countries.”

Vietnam: Volleyball squad to benefit from better instruction

The Vietnamese national women’s volleyball team may not be involved in any matches at the moment, but they certainly are doing what they can to triumph at the most region’s most important competition.

According to VietnamNet, the squad has been assigned a new coach in a bid to boost its chances of reaching their SEA Games goal of a silver medal. Thai Thanh Tung, who had previously headed the team in 2009, replaced outgoing coach Pham Van Long, who faced criticism about his lack of decorum on the court.

The team will also be benefitting from the expertise of a foreign coach soon. 

All opinions expressed by various news agencies in this article are not representative of those of SINGSOC.

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