|The Badminton Asia Championships are on! Ivan Saldajeno|
MUNTINLUPA—Some of the top badminton players in Asia will converge at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex this week as the said arena will be the site of the Smart Badminton Asia Championships.
According to Philippine Badminton Association vice president Jude Turcuato and Badminton Asia secretary-general Mousa Nashid, some 276 shuttlers all across the continent will collide in the Level 2 event, which will run from April 26-May 1.
According to Turcuato, the BAC is one way for the Filipino badminton stars to get international experience as they gear up for the bigger wars ahead, including the Southeast Asian Games from May 12-23 in Hanoi.
"The thing that was lacking was really competing against the very best, and part of the plan is for us to go out and compete against the very best. But why not have the very best go here and compete against our athletes so they can start having that experience in competing against the world-class badminton players?" Turcuato said during the pre-tournament press conference on Sunday at the Crimson Hotel, the event's official billeting place.
Fully aware of the heavy underdog tag for the Philippine team with the likes of world number five men's singles player Anthony Ginting highlighting the BAC, Turcuato is looking at the tournament with modest expectations.
"This tournament is not for us to expect a gold medal or to win. This tournament is for us to begin that journey and the experience to be able to get exposure and compete with international athletes," Turcuato added.
Thirteen Filipino shuttlers will represent the Three Stars and a Sun in the BAC, but only two of them, Paul John Pantig and Christian Bernardo, have secured a place in the main draw.
Pantig and Bernardo will team up in the men's doubles event, but their road to glory will begin with a showdown against world no. 12 pair Choi Sol-Gyu and Seo Seung-Jae of South Korea.
The rest of the field, including current Filipino singles stars Jewel Albo and Mika De Guzman, will go through a qualifying phase for a shot at making the main draw.
Regardless of what happens to their quest, the Philippine team will be getting some needed gear-up as it prepares for the SEA Games.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno