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‘Turn Axiata Cup into an ASEAN League’

The Philippines may have lost all their matches in the inaugural Axiata Cup, but their manager Arolas Amahit Jr is hoping the invitational tournament can be turned into an ASEAN League.

Speaking both as an official and as a former player, Arolas said the benefits of playing in such a high level tournament will only benefit the sport in his country and in the region.

The Axiata Cup is an inter-team competition involving the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia and is being held in Jakarta, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia and Indonesia are fielding two teams each and they dominated the tournament by entering the semi-finals.

With US$1 million in prize money, the Axiata Cup is the world’s richest team championship.

The winners will earn US$400,000 with the runners-up getting US$200,000. The two losing semi-finalists will pocket US$100,000 while those who have failed to get past the group stages will still walk away with US$50,000 each.

Arolas said his shuttlers such as Paul Jefferson Vivas (above), have gained so much in the tournament, even though they failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

“This was a good learning experience for us. We knew the chances of us winning a match would be slim, but to have the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world is just as important,” said Arolas.

“I hope they will turn this tournament into an Asean league as it will give badminton more exposure in our country. As you know, we lost all our matches, but the exposure and experience we gained will help our players become better shuttlers.”

In the tournament, Philippines suffered 3-0 losses to Indonesia Rajawali, Thailand and hosts Malaysia Tigers.

The Philippines had two guest players in Germany’s Marc Zwiebler and doubles specialist Mathias Boe of Denmark (right), who partnered Ronel Estanislao in two matches.

The European duo may not have won any matches, but their presence was a big motivation for the Philippines’ players.

“They were sharing their experience with the players and imparting their knowledge on what it is like to play at such a high level,” said Arolas.

“They also helped to coach the players on the finer points of the game and overall I think our players will come out better for it.”

For more information on the tournament, click here.

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