THE Philippine youth handball players returned to Manila on Sunday glowing with pride after a silver medal performance in the IHF Trophy in Malaysia.
The Under-18 squad performed well beyond expectations in the International Handball Federation event, defeating Indonesia, 40-25, and host Malaysia, 30-29, to reach the title match.
The young Pinoys wound up in second place in their first international stint, with powerhouse Thailand taking the gold with a 38-28 victory in the final on Saturday.
The Filipinos managed to keep it close early and trailed just by a hairline at the half, 21-20, before the Thais pulled away.
“We started with a goal of a podium finish but things went our way and made the finals,” said head coach Joanna Franquelli.
“We had our chances against Thailand in the final but unfortunately fell short.”
It was a huge finish for a team that entered the tournament with modest expectations, and the Philippine Handball Federation hopes it will be a big boost as it bids for the sport to be calendared for next year’s Southeast Asian Games to be hosted by the country.
“We have proven we can contend with the best of the region and in time I am confident we can eventually bring home the gold,” said PHF secretary general Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem.