HOPEFUL. Members of the Philippines team train at the Table Tennis Hall inside the Morodok Techo Sports Complex in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on June 1, 2023. The Filipino paddlers are hoping to win more medals in the ASEAN Para Games taking place in Phnom Penh on June 5-9. (PNA photo by Jean Malanum)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Andrew Kevin Arandia was not expecting a podium finish when he debuted at the 2022 ASEAN Para Games held in Surakarta, Indonesia.

But he did, winning the men's singles Class 9 silver medal that proved he has a bright future in table tennis.

"I was so happy when I got the silver medal in Indonesia. It inspired me to do better this year," the 26-year-old said during the team's practice at the Table Tennis Hall inside the Morodok Techo Sports Complex here Thursday.

Born with a club foot, he underwent surgery and began playing table tennis in grade school.

"The target is to win the gold medal. I've been training well and I hope I can achieve my goal here in Cambodia," said the 5-foot-7 Arandia, who joined the national team after winning the silver medal in the 2018 Philippine National Para Games in Bulacan.

Aside from the silver, Arandia bagged the men's doubles bronze medal with Benedicto Gaela in Indonesia.

Gaela pocketed his second bronze medal in the men's singles Class 9.

Minnie Cadag and Mary Eloise Sable also won two bronze medals each. Cadag teamed up with Sable in the women's doubles and partnered with Pablo Catalan Jr. in Class 10 mixed doubles. Sable got another bronze in the women's singles.

The other bronze medals in the 2022 ASEAN Para Games came from Jobert Lumanta and Jayson Ocampo (men's team and doubles Class 8); Billy Smith Cartera, Darwin Salvacion, Racleo Martinez Jr. (men's team Class 4); Cartera and Martinez (men's doubles Class 4); Linard Sultan (men's singles Class 9); and Catalan and Sultan (men's doubles).

"We expect our players to give their best performances and hopefully, all will be able to win medals," said head coach Louise Mark Eballa, a member of the De La Salle varsity team from 2002-2007. He was named MVP while playing for the University of the East high school team.

The competition in para table tennis will start on June 4. (PNA)