Shortened format for SEAG women's volleyball as Malaysia backs out

Sports officials from different Southeast Asian countries participate in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games draw on October 15, 2019. Philip Matel/ESPN5

The Philippines' women's volleyball team will face an uphill climb in their 2019 Southeast Asian Games campaign.

Instead of the customary two-group stage format seen in previous editions of the biennial regional sporting meet, the women's volleyball squad will need to make every win count since the tournament will just be a single round robin.

Five teams will be participating in the event that had been dominated by Thailand over the past 11 editions. Joining the Philippines and the defending champions are Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. Malaysia backed out at the last minute, according to Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. Secretary General Ariel Paredes.

The national squad already had a glimpse of three of the opponents in the recently-concluded ASEAN Grand Prix. It had two legs, namely in Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand and in Sta. Rosa Laguna, where the Philippine volleybelles won bronze in both.

Paredes, who participated in the team draw organized by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) on Tuesday, explained that the PHISGOC had merely followed its technical handbook stating that events with five participants or less shall be instituted with a single round-robin format, scrapping the women's draw.

The medal matches will be determined by the top four squads. The top two will clash for gold, while the third and fourth seeds will try to clinch silver.

The Philippine men's volleyball team, on the other hand, is bracketed with the last edition's other podium finishers Indonesia and Vietnam, and Cambodia in Group B. Defending champions Thailand, meanwhile, was placed in Group A with Myanmar, Singapore, and Timor-Leste.

Both volleyball tournaments start on November 28 at PhilSports Arena in Pasig and will end run until December 10.

In men's football, the Philippines was placed in Group A along with Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste, while the other group featured Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and Brunei.

For the distaff division, the Filipinas will be fighting for Group A supremacy along with Myanmar and Malaysia. Reigning champions Thailand, meanwhile, will be duking it out with Thailand and Indonesia.

The football tournaments will be held at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna, and the Imus Grandstand in Cavite. It will last from November 26 to December 9 for the men's competition and November 28 to December 9 for the women's.

Water polo, the first SEA Games event at the New Clark City Aquatics Center, will be participated by Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand in the men's category. However, only three teams will be joining the women's water polo event: Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. Only the top two teams will be awarded medals, based on SEA Games rules. Thailand lorded over the tournament in the last edition.

The Philippines will start its men's badminton campaign against Malaysia, and against Singapore for the women's. The Muntinlupa Sports Center will play host to the events, which will be held from December 1 to 9.

For underwater hockey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines will be battling over the 6x6 and 4x4 categories. It will follow the same format as women's volleyball. It will be held at the Vermosa Sports Hub in Imus, Cavite from December 2 to 5.