Thailand vs. Philippines: Who’ll win?

My wife Jasmin and I relish Thai food. Tom Yum? Yum, yum. That’s our favorite spicy soup. Pad Thai, the stir-fried noodle dish? Delicious. Here in Cebu, from Ayala to SM to BTC, we can easily savor Thai cuisine.

Thai massage? Even more prevalent. In almost every major there’s a Nuat Thai or Thewi Thai or Wat Pho.

If we speak of Bangkok, the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, it’s nearby. Our very own Cebu Pacific now offers thrice-weekly direct flights from Cebu to Bangkok. If we talk of business, in a head-to-head, PH is handily beaten by TH. In terms of GDP, they totaled $643 billion compared to our $417 billion. That’s a big disparity. To think that our 90 million population dwarfs their 67 million.

Why this talk of Thailand? Because this weekend, either the Filipinos will feast on Thai food or our neighboring Thais will gobble up Pinoy food.

It’s tennis. It’s this tomorrow until Sunday. It’s at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. It’s the Group 2 meeting between these two Southeast Asian nations. It’s Davis Cup.

Last night, together with the Phil. Tennis Association (Philta) and the Thai tennis squads, I attended the traditional Welcome Dinner hosted by owner Manny Gonzalez and GM Efren Belarmino of Plantation Bay. The players were introduced. They got to meet face to face. They danced the tinikling.

This morning, it will be the Draw. This is the occasion when who-will-play-who will be determined. Will Treat Huey play singles tomorrow? If yes, will the world no. 27 (in doubles) meet the Thai top seed, Danai Udomchoke?

Ruben Gonzales, the star of our last Davis Cup tie versus Syria — is he playing tomorrow? Yes, most likely. How about Nino Alcantara? You’ve heard of Nino: he’s Bisaya, from Cagayan de Oro, and now studies in the U.S. under a college scholarship. He’s famous for being a junior Australian Open doubles champion. He’s in Cebu. He’s with the team.

Johnny Arcilla? The indefatigable Bisaya, Johnny is a 7-time PCA Open champ. He played against Syria and won an important match. He completes the four-man squad.

A funny thing happened two nights ago. During the Fellowship Dinner of the 14th Truflex National Age Group event, all four Davis Cuppers — plus their coaches Roland Kraut and Chris Cuarto — attended. They wore all-blue (Yonex) shirts and gorged on lechon as they joined the nearly 200 junior players and parents at Bayswater in Marigondon.

Huey, Gonzales, Arcilla and Alcantara were introduced in the front by Randy Villanueva, Philta’s top official and Davis Cup administrator. Upon the prodding of Randy and forced by the clapping of the crowd, the six danced the Harlem Shuffle! I’m sure that dance was shot in video and uploaded in Facebook. Look for it!

With the Phil-Thai Davis Cup schedule, it’s this: Tomorrow (Friday), it’s the first two singles matches. The first match begins at 3:30 P.M. The second singles match follows right after. (Perfect afternoon/evening setting.) For Saturday — the birthday of the Thai-looking Pinoy, Jourdan Andrew Polotan — it will be just one match: the doubles, to start at 6 P.M. On Sunday, it’s the reverse two singles matches; the first to begin at 3:30 P.M. See you in Plantation Bay!

SUMMER TENNIS CAMP. If you’re looking to join a sports clinic this summer, try tennis. Not yet known to many, we’ve got a world-class tennis coach who now resides in Cebu.

Tommy Frederiksen, who hails from Sweden and who moved here last January, will conduct a month-long tennis camp at the Casino Espanol. It’s open to the public.

Sessions are every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 A.M. at Casino Espanol’s two clay courts along Ranudo St. The fee for the April 9 to May 7 camp is P2,000. Very reasonable. Players who don’t have rackets can even borrow. The camp is open to children from 6 to 18 years old and to both beginners and intermediate-level players.

Register now! Call Ritchel at 2531260 or Ana/Lex at 4161122 or text Coach Tommy at 0917-3010338.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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