LAST_UPDATEWed, 20 Jun 2018 7pm

Philippines Eye Better Than Bronze Win In Wheelchair Basketball

SEPANG – The Philippines men’s basketball team’s status as the perennial powerhouse in Southeast Asia will be hoping to finish better than a bronze medal in wheelchair basketball when the 9th ASEAN Para Games kicks off from Sept 17-23.

Since the team’s participation at the 2013 Myanmar APG, the Philippines has only managed to clinch bronze, which is contrary to the country’s SEA Games squad who had won the crown 17 out of 19 editions in basketball.

Thailand proved its prowess in wheelchair basketball by winning the gold medal in both three-against-three and five-against-five events since the 2011 edition in Indonesia while Malaysia settled with silver in all three occasions.

But this time around, the cagers from the Philippines have set a higher target, the gold or silver, said coach Vernon Perea.

Vernon who is coaching the squad since formation in 2012 said despite having all the basic skills in basketball, a major obstacle faced by his charges was equipment.

“The number one factor is that our chairs are heavy, which is around 18-20kg compared to other countries who are using chairs weighing around eight to 10kg only and the extra weight we carry and push every time, takes its toll on the players.

“Besides that, we started our wheelchair basketball programme very late, compared to other countries who began a long time ago. So it is difficult for us to chase them,” he told Bernama when met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here.

For Captain Juanito Mingarine, who started the game in 1998, the equipment is not a hindrance for his team to showcase a better performance and return home with better result at the 9th edition.

“Me and my teammates have prepared well this time. Even if we do not have proper equipment, we still have the skills so we do not have to worry about other teams but need to prove we can do better,” said the 45-year-old, who is wheelchair bound since eight months old due to polio.

 A total of five teams, namely the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and host Malaysia would compete in the round robin format for the gold from Sept 18-22, at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Center (MITEC).