THE campaign of the Philippine women’s volleyball team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games took a dramatic turn following the withdrawal of Malaysia from November 28 to December 10 tournament at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Instead of the field being grouped into two divisions, the last-minute withdrawal of Malaysia will have the five remaining teams - host Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand - playing in a single-round eliminations.
On Tuesday during the Team Draw at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) secretary general Ariel Paredes announced that there was no need for a draw in the women’s volleyball.
“As per the SEA Games handbook, if there are five or fewer participating teams, the competition shall be conducted in a single round robin format,” said Paredes.
The top two at the end of the stage will play for the gold medal.
“Teams ranked first and second will play for the gold medal, teams ranked third and fourth will play for bronze medal. This regulation applies now to women’s volleyball,” he added.
The Philippines is looking to land in the podium after back-to-back third-place finishes in the first and second legs of the ASEAN Grand Prix in Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand and Sta. Rosa in Laguna, respectively.
To have a shot at the gold medal, the Philippines must land in the top two at the end of the stage - or at No. 3 or 4 to have a shot at a podium finish.
The last time the Philippines hosted the biennial meet was in 2005 when the Pinay spikers won a bronze medal.
Meanwhile, in the men’s division, head coach coach Dante Alinsunurin picked Pool B where the hosts will vie against Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Pool A is composed of defending champion Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Timor Leste.
In the other draws, women’s football has the Philippines with Myanmar and Malaysia in Pool A, while Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are in Pool B.
In men’s football, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Timor Leste were grouped in Pool A, while Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam make up Pool B.
For the men’s water polo, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand will also play in a round-robin format with the top two teams will play in the gold medal match, while the third- and fourth-ranked teams will vie for the bronze.
In women’s water polo, where only three teams in Thailand, Philippines and Singapore will participate, only the gold medal is at stake.
For the women’s badminton, the Pinay shuttlers will face 2017 bronze medalist Singapore in its first round, while the men’s team will up against Malaysia.
In men’s and women’s underwater hockey, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia will also play in a round robin format.