By Rey Bancod
The three-time silver medalists take on Thailand at 11 a.m., one of four matches scheduled at the National Aquatic Center.
“It will be an honor for the team to be the first to see action,” said Dale Evangelista, a former star player and now member of the coaching staff.
Also on Tuesday, the Philippines battles Thailand in women’s netball at 3 p.m. at the Juara Stadium inside the Bukit Kiara national sports complex.
At 8:45 p.m., the women’s football team makes its debut against host Malaysia at the UiTM Shah Alam Stadium.
Action in 11 sports will begin ahead of the formal opening on Saturday with the first four gold medals to be disputed in archery and sepak takraw on Thursday.
The men’s football team left Friday followed by the women’s squad the following day.
The women’s netball squad also left yesterday to be followed by the water polo team on Sunday.
The main wave of the 495-strong national contingent will leave on Friday and Saturday.
The fancied men’s basketball team is set to depart on Friday while the popular women’s volleyball squad will leave on Saturday, just in time for the opening ceremonies at the 87,000-seat Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
Malaysia is hosting the Games for the sixth time and is expected to challenge Thailand for the overall championship.
A total of 404 gold medals will be at stake in 38 sports spread in 17 days.
The Philippines is not entered in at least 120 events, but hopes to surpass the 29 gold medals it collected in Singapore two years ago.
The Filipinos are expected to figure prominently in the first two final events in archery – the men’s and women’s individual compound.
Amaya Paz-Cojuangco, who settled for the silver medal in Singapore, is hoping to reassert herself and dominate the event she won in 2005 and 2007.
Also in the squad is veteran Jennifer Chan, a gold medalist in 2009.
Earl Benjamin Yap, on the other hand, is hoping to improve on a pair of silver and bronze finishes in previous Games.