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PH Table Tennis Team needs ‘Godfather’ for SEAG

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IF there is one sport to look out for, it’s table tennis.

Philippine Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) president Ting Ledesma said he is ready to stake his name to attract ‘sports ‘Godfather’ who will bet for the team that he said has the potential for two gold and three bronze medals at the upcoming 31st Southeast Asian Games on May 12. -27 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“It’s a big payoff, but we believe we can win the gold medal at the SEA Games. This team is different, disciplined and we will fight as far as we go. We just lacked the gold medal. This is it, here we have a destination,” said Ledesma, former National player and coach, in a virtual forum on Thursday via Zoom of the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports, Inc. (TOPS) ‘Usapang Sports’.

PTTF will field 10 Filipino table netters in the SEA Games for men’s and women’s doubles, mixed doubles, and team competition, but only three players – Richard Gonzales, John Nayre, and John Misal – have been approved by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for funding from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“Richard (Gonzales) bronze medalist in the men’s singles last SEAG, John (Nayre) Youth Olympian and John (Misal) have a good record in international competition that is why they are the ones approved by the POC. We understand that the budget of the PSC is limited right now, but we fought for the seven (five women and 2 men) because we are confident that they will be able to win, so we are grateful that both POC and PSC agreed,” said Ledesma.

The POC’s ‘have money, will travel’ scheme includes the entire women’s team of top-rank Kheith Rhynne Cruz, No.2 Angel Joyce Laude, No.3 Emy Rose Dael, No.4 Jannah Romero, and No.5 Sheryl Mae Otanez, as well as John Michael Castro and Japeth Adaza.

“We can no longer beat by the Singaporean and the host team. We have full confidence in the team. The Philippine team will show them what they have now. That is why we are just now grateful to the team’s sponsors, ” Ledesma said at the sports forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, and PAGCOR.

The athletes did not feel any ‘pressure’ in Ledesma’s statement, but they accepted the challenge so that they could persevere during the training.

“It is a great opportunity for me to be with the National Team. I had this dream when I was young. I dream of being like Ate Yanyan. I will also try to overcome what he has achieved, ”Cruz said, referring to his idol, the late Olympian Ian La

At the age of 15, Cruz, trained in China as part of the education-training camp of the Table Tennis Association for National Development (TATAND), is the youngest player on the team and the Philippine delegation to be contested in the SEA Games.

“I really improved my attack style so that I can counter the opponents. So I will try to reciprocate PTTF’s trust in me, ” said Cruz, also known by his Chinese name‘ Yingying ’.

Fellow La Salle standout Laude and the group’s most veteran Dael also have full confidence in the team’s readiness as they undergo ‘bubble training’ since November 2020.

“Our studies and training are balanced. On my part, I graduated last year so I really focus on training. Last SEA Games, we were only a few points away for bronze medal, so this time we will take it,” said Dael, four-time UAAP champion and 2018 UAAP Most Valuable Player.

For more intensive training, Ledesma announced that they have invited two high-rank Indian players and a Pakistani coach to join them in ‘bubble’ training from March 1 to April 30.

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