Members of the Philippine ice hockey team said their gold medal victory over Thailand at the Empire City Ice Arena in the Southeast Asian Games is one they will never forget.
The squad carved out a 5-4 victory over Thailand in the finals to become the inaugural champion of the first ever ice hockey tournament in the biennial Games.
Carl Montano, who was on ANC Hardball together with teammates Paul Sanchez, Paolo Strafford, and Carlo Tenedero, said he had a fuzzy feeling the moment the final buzzer sounded and signaled their victory.
“It was one of those moments where you have that tingly feel all over your body,” he said. “It was one of the greatest feelings I ever had. I threw my gear, I ran to the whole huddle, you could see the emotions on the guys faces, all the tears, the agony, all the hard work we had to go through… It was amazing.”
Stafford said experience is nothing short of magical, considering they only had been regularly playing together for a year.
“This was the first time I cried from winning, everyone cried not just me. It was just emotions, it was magical,” he said.
Before facing Thailand, the Philippine team had to go through Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
They also had to hurdle eligibility issues as opposing teams sought the removal of Tenedero and Sanchez from the team.
Good thing that they have the documentation to prove that the two Filipino-Canadians have been residing in the Philippines since April 2016.
“The rules state that you have to have lived in the country for 16 months and play for the local hockey team for 2 years,” explained Sanchez.
“Luckily enough, me and Carlo moved here 16 months on the dot. So we we’re eligible. We had to go through appeals. We would like to thank Chef de Mission Cynthia Carrion for appealing for us, as well as president Christopher Sy.”
Tenedero said they expect other Asian teams to take notice now that the Philippines emerged dominant in the Southeast Asian region.
He said some of their competitors have already labelled them as one of the favorites in the Challenge Cup Asia in April next year.
“We’ve never participated in this tournament before but the other teams have unanimously decided that we’ll be on the top tier given our performance recently,” he said.
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