Asian badminton tourney gets going

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    WITH the withdrawal of China and Hong Kong, the Philippines found itself in a much more favorable bracket in the men’s division after the re-drawing of lots yesterday on the eve of the Badminton Asia Manila Team Championships at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

    The national squad wound up in Group C together with Chinese-Taipei and Singapore while Group B will be made up of India, Malaysia and Kazakhstan, with the remaining two squads in Group A and B advancing to the semifinal round outright.

    This means that Group A’s Indonesia, the No. 1 men’s seed, and South Korea will dispute top spot in their group while Japan and Thailand will face off for top honors in Group D.

    Action starts today at 10 a.m.

    The Chinese and Hong Kong teams withdrew due to the deadly novel coronavirus epidemic that broke out in the Chinese mainland.

    “Even if the grouping is a little lighter compared to our original group, we still have a mountain to climb,” noted national men’s coach Ronald Magnaye. “The Chinese-Taipei team has one of the top players in the world in Chou Tien Chen.”

    Also withdrawing in the six-day competition serving as a qualifying tournament for the Thomas and Uber Cup in Denmark in May was India’s women’s squad.

    The Pinay racket-wielders will remain in Group Y with Southeast Asian rivals Thailand and Indonesia.

    Also advancing to the semis outright in the women’s division are South Korea and Kazakhstan, which will tangle for first in Group X, Malaysia and Japan in Group Y, and Chinese-Taipei and Singapore in Group Z.

    Strict safety and health measures will be enforced during the tournament supported by Smart, MVP Sports Foundation, Cignal, TV 5 and Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, according to Philippine Badminton Association secretary general Epok Quimpo.