When Alexandre "AK" Laverez and Andreij "Doujin" Albar faced each other on the main stage of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, it wasn't the way that they expected to meet. Even in their mother organization, the two teammates needed to beat his fellow Filipino for a shot at Thailand's Nopparut "Book" Hempamorn and the gold medal.
The silver medal match was not where the country's representatives wanted to cross paths. Months prior to the biennial multi-sport event, AK and Doujin were touted as the favorites to finish on top of the competition.
"Siyempre masakit kasi team kill 'yun eh. Ang gusto talaga naming mangyari, magti-team kill kami sa winners final for gold and silver," said Laverez, who emerged from the best-of-five losers final that went the full distance to go up against the Thai.
"We are actually pretty confident, me and AK, that we would get the gold and silver medals. So this is actually a disappointment for us," echoed Albar in a separate interview.
AK was the first of the two to fall into the loser's bracket, after Book caught him off guard with an Akuma pick. The latter made quick work of the Pinoy with a sweep to send him fighting for his tournament life.
"Yung Akuma niya kasi weird 'yung timing eh. Hindi katulad nung ibang nag-a-Akuma. Tsaka 'yung paglabas ng Akuma, hindi namin ine-expect 'yun eh. Kasi nung Sabado lang, nagkatapat kami sa LCQ (Tekken World Tour Final qualifiers). Siya 'yung nag-battle for second. Nag-Jin siya — ayun, na-sweep ko," shared Lavarez.
As for Doujin, the 20-year-old fought the Thai star in the upper bracket finals to determine who advances to the gold medal round. This time, the Thai brought out a surprise Geese pick for the matchup. Albar started out strong against him, but failed to sustain momentum as Book recovered.
"We were actually expecting him to use Jin, but he used Geese against me and Akuma against AK, so credit to him for having Akuma as his pocket pick. Not only a surprise, but strong characters as well," Albar said.
After losing the finals rematch against the eventual gold medalist, Lavarez revealed to reporters why the Thai didn't bring out his main pick Jin against them.
"Nakausap ko po siya. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Why didn't you use Jin?' Lagi ko na kasi siyang tinatalo sa mga tournament kaya tinago niya na raw 'yung Jin niya," AK said with a slight laugh.