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PH off to fine start

The Philippines got off to a rousing start in the 29th Southeast Asian Games when it beat Thailand, 9-7, Monday in men’s water polo at the National Aquatic Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Roy Canete, one of three veterans who came out of retirement, scored six goals to power the Filipinos past the 2015 bronze medalists.

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Indonesia, runner-up behind Singapore two years ago, edged Malaysia, 4-3, in the other game.

Singapore, gunning for its 27th straight title, did not see action on opening day.

The best record after the round-robin tournament among five teams will be declared champion.

In 2015, the team, made up of young players, dropped all four matches to finish last.

Smarting from the embarrassing finish, the team recalled Canete and Frazier Alamara to provide firepower and leadership.

Two weeks before the Games, Dale Evangelista, a bruising defender, returned from a six-year hiatus.

All three, together with long-time goalkeeper Tani Gomez, played key roles for the team which built an 8-4 lead with two minutes remaining.

Evangelista, who also acts as assistant coach, said their 35-day training in Europe made a big difference.

“Nasanay kami lumaban sa mga mas malalaki. Against the Thais, kami ang mas malaki, kaya umpisa pa lang binakbakan na namin,” Evangelista said.

Next on the Filipinos’ agenda is Malaysia on Tuesday. The match is set at 9 a.m.

Another win will set up the team to a crucial match with Singapore on Wednesday.

The Filipinos have won silver medals in 2005, 2007 and 2009 before settling for fourth in 2011. They did not see action in 2013.

Thailand exacted revenge hours later in netball when it crushed the Philippines, 86-3.

On Wednesday, Filipino archers dispute the gold medals in men’s women’s individual compound events.

“Gusto naming makauwi ng ginto this time,” said head coach and former national team standout Clint Sayo.

The Filipinos settled for silver and three bronze medals the last time around in Singapore.

Amaya Paz-Cojuangco is out to improve on her silver medal finish in 2015.

“I think I am in better shape now compared to 2015,” said Cojuangco, a double gold medalist in the Games. “I want to win that gold.”

Sayo said the archers trained for three weeks at the US National Archery in Salt Lake, Utah and took part in some tournaments in California.

Before flying to Kuala Lumpur, the team had another training camp in Dumaguete City, the archery hotbed of the Visayas.

“Gusto naming makauwi ng ginto this time,” said head coach and former national team standout Clint Sayo.

The Filipinos settled for silver and three bronze medals the last time around in Singapore.

Amaya Paz-Cojuangco is out to improve on her silver medal finish in 2015.

“I think I am in better shape now compared to 2015,” said Cojuangco, a double gold medalist in the Games. “I want to win that gold.”

Sayo said the archers trained for three weeks at the US National Archery in Salt Lake, Utah and took part in some tournaments in California.

Before flying to Kuala Lumpur, the team had another training camp in Dumaguete City, the archery hotbed of the Visayas.

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