Top Filipino badminton players get back in swing in Bingo Bonanza National Open
PBA secretary general Rep. Albee Benitez (seated, center) flashes the thumbs-up sign with (from left) tournament director Nelson Asuncion and Bingo Bonanza vice president for operations Al Alonte and players (standing, from left) Ronel Estanislao and Joper Escueta, coach Paul Firman, Paul Vivas and Peter Magnaye during the launch of the Bingo Bonanza National Open at the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.  

THE finest Filipino badminton players strut their wares when the rich Bingo Bonanza National Open takes place from December 11 to 14 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex with a total cash prize of P1.5 million up for grabs.

Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, the PBA secretary-general, said the singles champions will get P100,000 each and the winning doubles teams P120,000.

“The best of the best will be here slugging it out in a very friendly environment,” Benitez announced on Tuesday at the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.

Benitez said the PBA has shelved plans to stage big international events in favor of national tournaments to give the country's top players more exposure.

“When we host international tournaments, our players are normally eliminated after the first round and only the foreign players remain. It’s like we’re holding the tournament for them.

“Now, we want to focus on national tournaments. Let us first upgrade and develop our national players until they can really compete with the foreigners,” said Benitez.

Joining Benitez in the forum were Bingo Bonanza’s Al Alonte, national coach Paulus Firman of Indonesia and national players Paul Jefferson Vivas, Peter Gabriel Magnaye, Philip Escueta and Ronel Estanislao.

“This is a major event. And Bingo Bonanza is here because we still believe that badminton is one of the sports that can bring glory to the Philippines,” said Alonte of the upcoming event sanctioned by the Philippine Badminton Association.

Nelson Asuncion, the tournament director, said there are limited slots to the Bingo Bonanza National Open but assured that “all the top players will be there.”

against the best have greatly increased,” he said.

Firman, who became head coach of the Philippine team only last January, is happy with what he’s seeing.

“This is good. But I don’t want them to be satisfied. We are just starting to build their confidence,” said Firman, who also guided Vivas and Magnaye to the Phl’s first-ever double’s crown in the Swiss International Challenge of Champions. Escueta and Estanislao, meanwhile, reach the quarterfinals of the Yonex Dutch Open.

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