by Waylon Galvez
With teams from Vietnam and Indonesia in the same group with the Philippines, national handball team coach Jana Franquelli said it’s going to be a good tune-up match when they face these teams this week in the Asian Beach Handball Championship in Weihai, China.
The handball squad will see these teams again later this year together with Thailand, and that next tournament is on home soil when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games.
“It’s good that we’ll be able to see these teams in the Asian Championship,” said Franquelli. “That’s one of the reasons why we joined the tournament because we’ll see our opponents in the SEA Games.”
“Of course, they’ll see our team too. But for us, we’re relatively a new team so definitely, we can still improve as far as plays and roster. st importantly for us is the exposure we’ll get, which I think will even strengthen our team going to the SEA Games,” Franquelli added.
The national team left for China Wednesday night.
The national team is in Group A with Vietnam, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei, Afghanistan and Qatar, the reigning Asian champion and bronze medalist in the world in 2014 and 2016.
Thailand is in Group B with Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman Mand Pakistan in the Asian Championship scheduled to start Saturday. The event also serves as qualifier for the World Beach Handball Championship next year.
The handball team is composed of Marv Dubouzet, Jamael Pangandaman, Dhane Varela, RA Agtarap, Wes Telan, Jacob Baccay, Mac Valdez, Kenneth Sandaga, Rey Joshua Tabuzo, and Andrew Harris.
The 6-foot-4 is one of the new members as he adds ceiling and athleticism to the squad. This will be the first tournament for the former University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon team captain.
“It’s going to be exciting for us to see the national team see action in this tournament,” said Franquelli, who is joined by Luzviminda Pacubas, Aurora Adriano, and JC Pangilinan in the coaching staff.
“If there is a need to adjust, we have a good five months to make the changes necessary to improve the team in time for the SEA Games, where we hope to get a medal,” she added.