Handball Philippine men’s handball team in the 30th SEA Games in Manila.

No way to go but up for men’s handball

June 19, 2021 Ed Andaya 1298 views

THERE’S no way to go but up for the Philippine men’s beach handball team.

In fact, the Filipinos are determined to turn their bronze medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila into gold in the coming 2021 edition of the regional competition in Hanoi.

Speaking at the “Usapang Sports on Air”by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom recently, Philippine handball team coach Luzviminda “Luz” Pacubas said the Filipino athletes have what it takes to win it all in Hanoi.

“We are confident that we will have another podium finish in men’s handball in the Hanoi SEA Games,” said Pacubas during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

“From the bronze medal in Subic in 2019, we’re looking at the gold medal in Hanoi later this year,” added Pacubas, a member of the Philippine women’s beach handball team which placed 10th in the 2014 Asian Championships in Phuket, Thailand,

Pacubas, who also played for the bronze medal-winning Philippine women’s futsal team in the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, claimed things will only get better when the men’s team begins its bubble training at the Villa de Mar Resort in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte on July 1.

“Yun Ilocos bubble, talagang maganda at malaki yun area. Nasa beach sya talaga. Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat natin sa LGU ng Ilocos, headed by Gov. Manotoc,” said Pacubas.

Asked about the possibility that the SEA Games will be postponed due to the rise in the coronavirus cases, Pacubas said the team isn’t thinking about it.

“Tuloy-tuloy pa din naman ang training ng team sa Ilocos para handa kami anytime. We’re just waiting for the go-signal from the PSC. Kung sakali ma-postpone, magkakaroon lang siguro ng adjustment sa ating training plan at schedule,” Pacubas told editors and reporters.

“Right now, we have 18 players in the national training pool. But we will have to choose only 10 players who will play for the team. We have to consider a lot of aspects, like physical conditions tactical skills, mental preparations and cohesion.”

Pacubas said powerhouse Thailand and host Vietnam remain as the country’s biggest rivals in the sport.

“Against Thailand, we lost by just one point in one of the sets in the last SEA Games. We also lost by only two points against Vietnam, which already qualified in the world stage.”

“In Asia, we also did well and finished seventh in the Asian Handball Championships in China in 2019.”

She also said the handball team is also looking at the Asian Beach Games.

“Last year pa dapat itong Asian Beach Games kaso na-rescheduled for 2022 dahil sa pandemic. Sana matuloy na dahil isa ito sa mga pinaghahandaan nating competion.”

Although handball is still a new sport among Filipinos, Pacubas claimed it is as exciting as basketball and futsal.

“Actually, it is a combination of both basketball and futsal. May outdoor (beach) and indoor (gyms). Yung area, parang mixed ng basketball at futsal. Magiging handball. Two teams playing na may goalkeeper pa rin. Pero kailangan i-shoot yung bola, na mas maliit, using your hands,” explained Pacubas.

“Sa indoor , ang area, ay parang futsal. Medyo malaki ng konti sa basketball court at kailangan may goal na parang sa futsal. Sa beach handball, ang size ng court ay 27×15. Maliit lang siya. Pag i-shoot yung bola, kailangang hindi papasok yung shooter sa goalkeeper’s area, which is only six meters.”

“Tapos yung number of players inside the court, bale magiging 4 vs. 4. Pag nasa offensive play ang isang team, four players ang nasa loob, tapos yung defensive team, may goalkeeper at may three defensive players. Nilalaro ito in two sets. First set is 10 minutes only kaya very fast-paced siya. Tapos yung goal system. Pag may spectacular goals kasi, two points yun. Sample nito yung 360 spin shot, ang ganda tignan nun kasi iikot yung shooter ng 360 degrees tapos pag shoot niya, two points yun. ”

Like basketball, height is also might in netball.

“But we also consider the speed of the players. Yun strength and conditioning nila, pati yun talon. Kahit hindi gaano matangkad, makababawi sa taas ng talon. Advantage yun sa shooter na maka-goal ng marami.”

Pacubas, however, said they still have to work doubly hard to introduce handball to more people, especially in the provinces.

“Our focus right now is still in Metro Manila. But before the pandemic, our head coach Jana Franquelli visited several provinces to introduce netball and conduct seminars. There are also several schools which regularly participate in our tournaments every six months. We have indoor tournaments in both open and age-group from 10 to 20 years old.”

The handball federation is also working hard to introduce it to both the PE program of the Department of Education and also Palarong Pambansa.

She also urged the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to include all the other members of the nationa trainign pool for handball for vaccination.

“Sa ngayon, yung 10 athletes na sasali sa SEA Games pa lang ang nabigyan ng vaccine. Gusto sana naming mabakunahan yung ibang players na nasa training pool dahil sa training, lahat magkakasama. Kailangan ng may ma-kalaban yung 10 players na magco-compete sa SEA Games.”