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PH Cuppers need more exposures

By Kristel Satumbaga

Despite its heartbreaking loss to Thailand in the Asia Oceania Zone Group II tie over the weekend, Philippine non-playing captain Chris Cuarto gave his boys a high mark for showing their bravery and resilience.

Cuarto stressed the Filipino Cuppers have the skills to match up with the more experienced Thai rivals, but lacked the needed toughness which he’s trying to address.

“We can go toe-to-toe with them (Thailand), but to really finish them off, we’re still not there,” said Cuarto.

“We always do well in the first few sets, pero towards the end, dun tayo nayayari,” he added.

The PH team bowed to Thailand, 4-1, that ended its bid of being promoted to the elite Group I next year. They remain in Group II for the eighth straight time.

Cuarto said it boils down to getting more international exposures to hone the players’ skills in the crunch.

Actually, they started well by splitting the opening singles matches with Patrombon beating No. 2 Jirat Navasirisomboon, 6-2, 6-2, while 18-year-old Joseph Brian Otico losing to top seed Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul, 6-3, 6-4.

However, the duo of veteran Johnny Arcilla and Francis Casey Alcantara dropped a stinging 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 loss to Thai twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana before Trongcharoenchaikul outlasted Petrombon, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.

“Yung mga tournaments abroad, don mo lang matututunan yan eh. Yung mga finishing touches, mga diskarte, dyan lumalabas yan,” Cuarto said.

Cuarto, however, is optimistic the squad will grow in the coming years.

“This is a young team. We’ll try to make plans for them and hopefully give them enough tournament, exposures and support,” said Cuarto.

Alcantara, he said, is only 26 while Petrombon is only 25. Otico and AJ Lim, who is recuperating from a right shoulder injury, are 19 and 18, respectively.

Arcilla is the oldest in the team at 38.