PHNOM PENH – Singapore are kings of South-east Asian table tennis again as Clarence Chew, Koen Pang, Izaac Quek, Beh Kun Ting and Ethan Poh swept all-comers in the SEA Games men’s team event.
In Thursday’s final, they beat Malaysia 3-0 to reclaim the gold medal they last won in 2015 through Chen Feng, Li Hu, Yang Zi, current men’s team coach Gao Ning, and Chew.
This is also the first time the Republic has won this event with an all-local squad since Tan Khoon Hong, Tan Kai Kok and Chia Chong Boon did so on home soil in 1973.
Singapore had won seven out of eight men’s team gold medals from 1999 to 2015 – the event was excluded in 2011 – with a mix of China-born and local-born players.
In Camdodia, Singapore had brushed aside Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines in the group stage, and defending champions Thailand in the semi-finals with 3-0 victories. Meanwhile, Malaysia completed their marathon 3-2 semi-final win over Vietnam close to midnight.
Singapore were no doubt fresher for the final, and the result was rarely in question, even if the Causeway rivals tried their best to put Singapore under pressure early on.
Clarence Chew rebounded from one game down to beat Leong Chee Feng 3-1 (8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6), before Koen Pang beat Javen Choong 3-1 (11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8).
That set the stage for 16-year-old Izaac Quek, who is Asean’s top-ranked player (68th), to beat Wong Qi Shen 3-2 (11-9, 12-14, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7) in a thrilling comeback to seal overall victory.
In the women’s team event, Thailand beat Malaysia 3-0 to retain their crown, while Singapore and Vietnam shared bronze.
The table tennis individual events commence on Saturday with the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles quarter-finals.